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a city; center of Briansk Oblast, RSFSR. Located on the Desna River near the mouth of the Bolva River. A major railroad junction (with lines to Moscow, Kiev, Kharkov, Gomel’, Smolensk, Orel, and Viaz’ma). In 1956 the neighboring industrial city of Bezhitsa became part of Briansk. Population, 318,000 (1970; 174,000 in 1939; 207,000 in 1959).
Briansk arose as a fortified point on the high right bank of the Desna, in a forested area. It was originally called Bryn’ and later Debriansk. It is first mentioned in the Ipat’ev Chronicle under the year 1146. In the 12th century it belonged to the Chernigov princes, and from 1252 it was the capital city of the Briansk appanage principality. In 1356 it was seized by the Lithuanian prince Olgerd, and it came under the rule of Poland and Lithuania. In 1500 the army of Ivan III conquered Briansk, and it finally became part of the Muscovite state. It was fortified again during the reign of Peter I; a shipyard was constructed, and in 1737-39 ships of the Briansk Flotilla were built for the Turkish campaign. In 1783 an arsenal was founded in the city for siege and field artillery. In 1709, Briansk became part of Kiev province, and in 1778 it became a district city of Orel Province.
In the 19th century it became the center of the Briansk industrial region; in the 1870’s the joint-stock company of Briansk rail-rolling, iron, and mechanized plants was formed. In 1898-1900, the Orel-Briansk committee of the RSDLP was established. Soviet power was established in Briansk on Oct. 25 (Nov. 7), 1917. During the Great Patriotic War, Briansk was occupied by the fascist German invaders (Oct. 6, 1941, to Sept. 17, 1943); about 60,000 Soviet partisans were active in the forests around the city.
Briansk is a major industrial center. Machine building plays the leading role in industry: machine-building (formerly locomotive-construction), automobile, and road- and agricultural-machinery plants, together with the Strommashina Plant, produce mainly diesel engines, diesel locomotives, special freight cars (isometric and other types), heavy tractors, bulldozers, scrapers, automatic graders, asphalt-laying machines, assemblies and units for automobiles, equipment for cement factories, crushers, and agricultural machines and equipment. The production of fabricated metals and cast steel, building materials (a lime-brick plant, combines producing limestone brick and construction components, and a plant producing reinforced-concrete products), light industry (a worsted-goods combine and clothing and shoe factories), the food industry (a flour-milling combine, a meat combine, and a dairy plant), and the woodworking industry are also well developed. Briansk obtains its gas through pipelines from Dashava and Shebelinka. There is also a steam power plant.
Briansk has transportation machine-building and engineering institutes and 12 specialized secondary educational institutions. There is a theater and a museum of local lore. Present-day Briansk is divided into four areas; each is different in its external appearance and economic import. The nucleus of the city is Pokrovskaia Hill, on the steep right bank of the Desna; the southern part of the city—the area near the railroad station—is on the left bank of the Desna. The main industrial region is located in the northern part of the city at the confluence of the Desna and Bolva rivers (formerly the city of Bezhitsa). A new industrial region is being developed in the northwestern part of the city.
REFERENCESSokolov, V., and B. Shavyrin. Briansk: Istoriko-ekonomicheskii ocherk. Briansk, 1952.
Volokhov, V. P. Briansk. Tula, 1968.