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Kirovohrad (Ukrainian: Кіровоград [kʲirowoˈɦrɑd̪], Russian: Кировоград, Kirovograd), (formerly Elisavetgrad) is a city in central Ukraine. It is located on the Inhul river. It is a railway and a motorway junction. Pop. 239,400 (2004 est.). Developed around a military settlement the city got to prominence in the 19th century when it became an important trade centre enjoying the rights of the Ukrainian culture promoter with the first professional theatrical company both in Central and Eastern Ukraine being established here in 1882. In Soviet times the city rose to the status of an agricultural and light industry centre whose fame was due to such enterprises as Chervona Zirka Agricultural Machinery Plant (which once provided more than 50% of the USSR need in tractor seeders), Hydrosila Hydraulic Units Plant, Radiy Radio Component Plant, Pishmash Typewriter Plant (de facto defunct nowadays) etc. The recent history of Kirovohrad saw the imminent decline of the city's industrial potential and general socioeconomic value. The latter plus the poor reputation of local authorities with the city's population led to the widespread settled opinions that Kirovohrad belongs to the group of the low-developed regional capitals of Ukraine. Since 2002 the economics of Kirovohrad has been slowly reviving. During the Ukrainian presidential election of 2004 the city got the country-wide notoriety because of mass election fraud committed by local authorities and long after that was known as District 100 (the community number according to Central Elections Committee).

Administrative status

The city is the administrative center of the Kirovohrad Oblast (region), as well of the surrounding Kirovohradsky Raion (district) within the oblast. However, the Kirovohrad is a city of oblast subordinance, thus being subject directly to the oblast authorities rather to the raion administration housed in the city itself.

Name origin

Throughout the history Kirovohrad changed its name several times.

Presenting the letter of grant on January 11, 1752 to Major-General Jovan Horvat, the organizer of Nova Serbia settlements, the Empress Elizabeth of Russia ordered "to found the earthen fortress and name it the Fort of St. Elizabeth" (see On the Historical Meaning of the Name Elizabeth for Our City (in Ukrainian). Thus very ambivalently the future city was called in honour of its formal founder, the Russian empress, and simultaneously with due respect to her heavenly patroness, St. Elizabeth.

The official date of the name Yelisavetgrad (usually spelled Elisavetgrad or Elizabethgrad in English language publications) introduction is unknown. It is considered that the word itself should have appeared in a natural way, as the amalgamation of the fortress name and the common Eastern Slavonic constituent "-grad" (Old/Church Slavonic "градъ", "a settlement encompassed by a wall"). Its first documented usage dates back only to 1764 when the Yelisavetgrad Province was organized together with the Yelisavetgrad Lancer Regiment.

On Wednesday, April 27 1881, there was a pogrom against the Jewish citizens of Elisavetgrad. A religious dispute at an inn served as fuel for the riot. The attack focused at first on the systematic destruction of Jewish shops and warehouses. The Jewish citizens tried to protect their businesses, but this only led to more outrage. The soldiers joined in the rioting rather than protecting the innocent. After two days of attacks, many were killed, 500 houses and 100 shops were demolished and approximately 2,000,000 rubles' worth of property was stolen or destroyed. This would not be the only pogrom against the Jewish population of Elisavetgrad. In 1905 another riot flared killing Jews and again plundering the Jewish quarter. A contemporary account of the 1905 pogrom was reported in the NY Times December 13, 1905

Elizabethgrad was ravished by famine in 1901 which was made worse by poor government response. The region itself is extremely fertile. However, a drought in 1892 and poor farming methods which never allowed the soil to recover, prompted a large famine that plagued the region. According to a 1901 NY Times article, the Ministry of the Interior denied that the persistence of famine in the region and blocked non-State charities from bringing aid to the area. In the opinion of the NY Times author, "The existence of famine was inconvenient at a time when negotiations were pending for foreign loans." The Governor of the Kherson region, Prince Oblonsky, refused to acknowledge this famine. Nevertheless, one non-resident and non-State worker was able to gain access to Elizabethgrad and could provide the NY Times with an eye-witness account He observed:

1. General destitution
2. Acute destitution
3. Death from starvation
4. Hunger typhus (shows poverty)
5. Little to no work to be found in the region.

In 1924 the city was renamed Zinovievsk, (also spelled Zinovyevsk,) - after Grigory Zinoviev, a Soviet statesman and one of the Russian Communist Party (bolsheviks) leaders, who was born in Yelisavetgrad on September 20 (September 8 O.S.), 1883. At the time referred he was the member of Politburo and the Chairman of the Comintern's Executive Committee.

On December 27, 1934, after the assassination of Sergei Kirov (who hadn't ever been to Kirovohrad and wasn't related to the city in any possible way), Zinovievsk together with a number of other Soviet cities was renamed again - this time as Kirovo, and then as Kirovograd. The latter name appeared simultaneously with the creation of Kirovograd Oblast, on January 10, 1939 and was aimed to differentiate the region from Kirov Oblast in present-day Russia.

After the independence of Ukraine, the name of the city got started to be spelled directly via Ukrainian pronunciation as Kirovohrad, though previous Russified orthography is still widely used due to the wide spread of this language in the region.

Since 1991 there have been a lot of discussions on the future fate of the city name. A number of activists fervently support the idea to return the city its original name Yelisavetgrad (or now Yelysavethrad in Ukrainian transcription). Other variants were also proposed by people who consider the name of the Russian Empress Elizabeth inappropriate for contemporary Ukraine: they were Tobilevychi (in honour of the Tobilevych family, the Coryphaei of the classic Ukarinian drama established in Kirovohrad in 1882), Zlatopil, from Ukrainian "золоте поле", literally "golden field", and Stepohrad, Ukrainian for "city of steppes" (in recognition of the agricultural status of the city), Ukrayinsk or Ukrayinoslav, i.e. "the glorifying Ukraine one" and Novokozachyn (to commemorate the semi-fabulous Cossack regiment which could have quartered in the present-day city location).

Due to the slight tensions existing among the followers of different variants mentioned above and primarily because of annual city budget deficit the deal of Kirovohrad renaming remains an unresolved case.


The history of Kirovohrad starts from that of Fort of St. Elizabeth. This fort was built in 1754 by the order of empress Elizabeth of Russia and it played a pivotal role in the new lands added to Russia by the Belgrad Peace Treaty of 1739. In 1764 the settlement received status of the center of the Elizabeth province, and in 1784 the status of chief town of a district, when it was renamed after the fort as Yelizavetgrad.

The Fort of St. Elizabeth was located on the crossroads of trade routes, and it eventually became a major trade center. The city has held regular fairs 4 times a year. Merchants from all over the Russian Empire have visited these fairs. Also, there were a lot of foreign merchants, especially from Greece.

The first Ukraine theater was built in Kirovohrad, which was founded by M. Kropyvnyts'ky, I. Karpenko-Karyy, M. Zankovets'ka, P. Saksahans'ky and M. Sadovs'ky.

Famous people from Kirovohrad

- Olesya Dudnik, a Soviet gymnast
- Israel Fisanovich, a Soviet Navy submarine commander , hero of the Soviet Union
- Moses Gomberg, a chemist
- Boris Hessen, a historian of science
- Andrei Kanchelskis, a Russian-Ukrainian footballer
- Heinrich Neuhaus, a Soviet pianist and pedagogue of German extraction
- African Spir (or Afrikan Spir), a philosopher
- Alexei Suetin, a Soviet-Russian International Grandmaster of chess and an author
- Grigory Zinoviev, a Bolshevik revolutionary and a Soviet Communist politician
- Arseny Tarkovsky, Russian poet
- John Wegner (1887-1976), artist
- Irina Belotelkin, artist and fashion designer
- Andriy Rusol, football player
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