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Irkutsk(ĭrko͞otsk`), city (1989 pop. 626,000), capital of Irkutsk region, S Siberian Russia, at the confluence of the Angara and Irkut rivers. It is an industrial center, a port, the site of a hydroelectric dam, and a major stop on the Trans-Siberian RR. Manufactures include aircraft, automobiles, machine tools, textiles, chemicals, food products, and metals. Founded as a Cossack fortress in 1654, Irkutsk became the capital of Eastern Siberia in 1822. It has been a place of exile since the 18th cent. Many of the DecembristsDecembrists
, in Russian history, members of secret revolutionary societies whose activities led to the uprising of Dec., 1825, against Czar Nicholas I. Formed after the Napoleonic Wars, the groups comprised officers who had served in Europe and had been influenced by Western
..... Click the link for more information. settled in Irkutsk after their imprisonment, and a few of their houses are now open as tourist sites. In the city are a university (founded 1918) and several agricultural, medical, and technical schools. The Irkutsk dam has raised the level of nearby Lake Baykal by 20 ft (6 m).
a city, center of Irkutsk Oblast, RSFSR. One of the largest economic centers of Eastern Siberia, it is situated at the confluence of the Irkut and Angara rivers, 66 km west of Lake Baikal. Irkutsk is an important transportation junction on the Trans-Siberian Railroad and on the navigable Angara; it is at the hub of a number of motor roads and has a major airport. Population, 473,000 in 1972 (51,000 in 1897, 90,000 in 1917, 98,000 in 1926, 250,000 in 1939, and 366,000 in 1959). The city is divided into four city raions.
Founded in 1661 as a fortress on the right bank of the Angara, Irkutsk was made a city in 1686, and in 1764 became the center of Irkutsk Province. It was the residence of the governor-general of Siberia from 1803 and the governor-general of Eastern Siberia from 1822. The city was an important transit point on Russia’s trade route to Mongolia and China. Under tsarism, beginning in the early 18th century, both the city and the province served as a place of political exile. Exiled Social Democrats organized the first Social Democratic circles in Irkutsk, and at the end of 1901 the Irkutsk Committee of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party was organized. In the middle of the 19th century industry began developing in the city, and by 1890 there were 13 industrial enterprises and 109 artisan workshops. The growth of the working class was furthered by increased coal mining in Che-remkhovo. In 1902–04 there were strikes and demonstrations led by Social Democratic organizations of the workers of railway depots and shops. In 1905 the workers of Irkutsk joined the October All-Russian Strike and organized the Soviet of Clerical and Production Workers’ Deputies of the Trans-Baikal Railroad. In November 1905 disturbances occurred among the soldiers of the Irkutsk garrison. Soviet power was established in Irkutsk on Dec. 22,1917 (Jan.4, 1918), and from that time the city was the seat of the Central Executive Committee of Siberian Soviets (Tsentrosibir’). In July 1918 Irkutsk was seized by the White Guards. At the end of December 1919 the workers and soldiers led by the Irkutsk Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik) fomented rebellion against the Kolchak regime. Soviet power was restored in the city on Jan. 25, 1920, and the Red Army entered Irkutsk on Mar. 7, 1920.
Under Soviet power Irkutsk has been transformed into a major industrial and cultural center of the Eastern Siberian Economic Region. During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 defense plants arose quickly on the basis of the enterprises evacuated from the west.
IU. P. KOLMAKOV
Irkutsk has more than 70 industrial enterprises. The Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Plant has been built on the Angara within the city. The machine-building industry (heavy machinery and machine-tool plants, mechanical repair shops) is well developed. Its output includes electric dredges for the gold and diamond mining industries, blast furnace equipment, classifiers for ore mining enterprises, propeller shafts, and lathes. Irkutsk has a mica-processing factory (components for the radio and electrical industries) and enterprises for the production of building materials and reinforced-concrete structures. The food industry is represented by a tea-packing plant, a macaroni factory, a confectionery factory, a meat-packing plant, a complex for the processing of fats and vegetable oils, a mixed feed plant, and a grain-milling plant. Light industry is represented by two garment combines and factories for the production of furniture, footwear, knitted goods, felt boots, and leather.
Irkutsk is a major scientific and cultural center of Eastern Siberia. Located in the city are a group of institutes of the Siberian Division of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, a university (founded in 1918), a polytechnic institute, an agricultural institute, a pedagogical institute, an institute for foreign-language teachers, an institute of the national economy, and an institute of medicine. The city has four theaters: a dramatic theater, a musical comedy theater, a young people’s theater, and a puppet theater. Irkutsk also has a philharmonic society, a circus, a television center, a planetarium, a museum of local lore, and an art museum.
The city itself is divided by the Angara, Irkut, and Ushakovka rivers into four large parts. The right and left banks of the Angara are linked by an arch reinforced-concrete bridge, and there is a bridge across the Irkut. The left-bank portion above the influx of the Irkut, adjacent to the railroad station, is expanding in the direction of the Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Plant. The Siberian Division of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR is located in this part of the city. Below the influx of the Irkut, on the left bank of the Angara, are the industrial area and the Irkutsk-II railroad junction. Beyond the Ushakovka River are the automotive enterprises, which serve the Yakut Highway, and on the left bank of the Ushakovka is the V. V. Kuibyshev Heavy Machinery Plant. The central part of the city, situated on the right bank of the Angara, is the site of the principal administrative and commercial institutions, the higher educational institutions, and the theaters. This is the most beautiful part of the city, with boulevards and parks and the S. M. Kirov Square.
REFERENCESKudriavtsev, F. A., and G. A. Vendrikh. Irkutsk. Ocherki po istorii goroda. [Irkutsk] 1971.
Ocherki po istorii Irkutskoi organizatsii KPSS, part 1 (1901–20). Irkutsk, 1966.
Irkutsk. Bibliograficheskii ukazatel’. Irkutsk, 1971.