Komi Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic

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Komi Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic:

see Komi RepublicKomi Republic,
constituent republic (1990 pop. 1,270,000), c.160,000 sq mi (414,400 sq km), NE European Russia. Syktyvkar is the capital. The region is a wooded lowland, stretching across the Pechora and the Vychegda river basins and the upper reaches of the Mezen River.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Komi Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic


Komi ASSR. Part of the RSFSR, the Komi ASSR became an autonomous oblast on Aug. 22, 1921, and on Dec. 5, 1936, it was reorganized as an autonomous Soviet socialist republic. It is located in the northeastern European USSR. Its area is 415,900 sq km. In 1972 the population was 984,000. The republic has 13 administrative raions, seven cities, and 36 urban-type settlements. The capital is Syktyvkar.

Constitution and government. The Komi ASSR is a socialist state of workers and peasants and an autonomous Soviet socialist republic. The existing constitution was adopted by the Eleventh Extraordinary Congress of Soviets of the Komi ASSR on June 23, 1937. The supreme bodies of state power are the unicameral Supreme Soviet of the Komi ASSR, which is elected for four years under an apportionment rule of one deputy per 6,000 inhabitants, and its Presidium. The Supreme Soviet forms the republic’s government, the Council of Ministers of the Komi ASSR. In the Soviet of Nationalities of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR the Komi ASSR is represented by 11 deputies. The local bodies of state power are the city, raion, settlement, and village soviets of working people’s deputies, which are elected to two-year terms by the population.

The Supreme Soviet of the Komi ASSR elects to five-year terms the Supreme Court of the Republic, which is made up of two divisions (one for criminal and the other for civil cases), and the Presidium of the Supreme Court. The procurator of the Komi ASSR is appointed to a five-year term by the procurator-general of the USSR.

Natural features. A large part of the Komi ASSR is covered by plains. Only the Timan Range cuts through the republic from the southeast to the northeast (highest point, 456 m [the Chetlasskiii Kaman’]). Located in the east are the mountains of the Northern Polar Region and the Polar Urals, along whose main watershed the eastern boundary of the Komi ASSR runs. The highest point in the Komi ASSR and the entire Urals is Mount Narodnaia (1,895 m). The Pechora Lowland is located between the Timan Range and the Urals.

The Komi ASSR is rich in mineral resources: coal, petroleum, natural gas, oil shale, asphaltites, titanium ores, bauxites, rock salt, gypsum, limestone, and mineral waters. Fuel and energy resources are especially important, inasmuch as the potential reserves found in the republic constitute nine-tenths of all the resources of the Northwest USSR. The complex character of the distribution of minerals and the high concentration per unit area ensure a high degree of efficiency in their exploitation. Most of the republic has a moderate continental climate, with long, rather hard winters and short, comparatively warm summers. The severity of the climate increases from southwest to northeast. In Syktyvkar the average January temperature is —15.1°C, and the average July temperature, 16.6°C. The average January and July temperatures are — 17.3°C and 15.3°C in Ukhta and -20.4°C and 11.7°C in Vorkuta. In the northern and northeastern parts of the republic (chiefly beyond the arctic circle) permafrost covers 13 percent of the territory. The total annual precipitation throughout most of the territory of the republic is 600–700 mm, and in the Urals, up to 1,500 mm. The growing season ranges from 150 days in the south to 90 days in the northeast. In the north the sum of temperatures above 10° C is less than 600°, and in the south, about 1,600°.

The major rivers are the Pechora with its tributaries, the Usa and Izhma, the Vychegda with the Sysola and the Vym’ and the Mezen’ with the Vashka. The Pechora—the largest river of Northern European Russia—is navigable for more than 1,500 km. The Vychegda, a tributary of the Severnaia Dvina, is an important transportation route of the Komi ASSR. Potential hydroelectric resources are as high as 3.4 hectowatts. The most important lakes are Iamozero and Sindorskoe. Swamps occupy 12–15 percent of the territory. Most of the republic is covered with podzolic soils, but the northern part has tundra soils. Although floodplain soils are found in only 2 percent of the republic’s territory (floodplains of the Pechora and Vychegda rivers and their tributaries), their economic value is great.

A large part of the republic is situated in the taiga zone. Forests cover 28.7 million hectares (69 percent of the territory). Spruce and pine prevail, accounting for 81 percent of the trees. Siberian species such as cedar, fir, and larch, are also found. Varieties of larch make up 19 percent of the forests. The republic’s timber resources total 2.9 billion cu m. North of 66 degrees N lat., the taiga gives way to forest tundra and tundra.

The most valuable animals for industry are the arctic fox, marten, otter, squirrel, fox, and hare, and the most valuable birds are the black grouse, capercaillie, duck, and hazel hen, and in the north, the willow grouse. Fish of the salmon family, such as the Salmo salar. Arctic cisco, whitefish, and nelma, have the greatest commercial significance. Most of the Russian spawning grounds of the Salmo salar are concentrated in the republic. The Pechora-Ilych Preserve is located in the upper Pechora Basin. In order to preserve unique landscapes and develop tourism on a large scale, the State Nature Park was created in the Northern and Polar Region Urals in 1971.

Population. The indigenous inhabitants are the Komi (276,000; all figures are from 1970 census data.) The republic’s population also includes Russians (512,000), Ukrainians (83,000), Byelorussians (25,000), and some other peoples. The distribution of the population is extremely uneven. Most of the cities and urban-type settlements are situated along railroads. The valleys of the Pechora and Vychegda rivers are settled relatively densely. Thus, although the average population density in 1972 was 2.4 inhabitants per sq km, in the two valleys it was up to 15–20 inhabitants per sq km. In 1926 the population was 225,600; in 1939, 320,300; and in 1959, 815,000. In 1972 the urban population (64 percent of the total) was 63 times greater than in 1926. Its growth was mainly due to an influx of people from other parts of the country.

With the exception of Syktyvkar (population, 136,000 in 1972), all the republic’s cities were established under Soviet power: Vorkuta (92,000), Ukhta (69,000), Inta (51,000), Pechora, Sosnogorsk, and Mikun’.

Historical survey. The territory was settled in the Middle Paleolithic period (Krutaia Gora, a permanent settlement at the village of Byzovaia on the Pechora). The principal occupation of the inhabitants was hunting. In the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods hunting and fishing tribes penetrated into the Vychegda and Pechora basins from the Kama region and possibly from the Middle Volga (for example, the first Vis bog, the Vis settlements, and the Chernoborskaia settlement on the Izhma). There is evidence of a cultural similarity and probably an ethnic kinship during the Neolithic period between the local population and the population of not only the Kama and Volga-Oka regions but also the White Sea Basin.

Many monuments of the Bronze Age Turbino culture (second millennium B.C.) have been found. This culture had been introduced into the region by the ancestors of the Perm’ Finno-Ugrians. Tribes of the Anan’ino culture inhabited the Vychegda during the early Iron Age (first millennium B.C. and early first millennium A.D.). By the beginning of the second millennium A.D. the formation of the tribal association of the direct ancestors of the modern Komi (Zyrians) had been completed. In Russian written sources of the 11th to 14th centuries this tribal association is referred to as the Vychegda Perm’. The Permians settled the middle Vychegda Basin. Their principal occupations were hunting, fishing, slash-and-burn farming, and animal husbandry. A settled way of life developed among them, and handicraft centers were established, such as the village of Karybiyv.

The disintegration of the primitive communal system and the inception of feudal relations continued in the 11th and 12th centuries. From the 12th to 14th centuries the Vychegda Perm’ paid tribute to Velikii Novgorod. However, in the 14th century the influence of the Muscovite principality increased. In the last third of the 14th century, Stefan of Perm’ converted the population to Christianity. The territory of Komi was officially incorporated into the Russian state in 1478.

The Komi began to settle new territories along the Vychegda, Mezen’, and Pechora and their tributaries. Komi territory was drawn into the evolving Russian market. From the 15th to 18th centuries important trade routes ran through it from the Viatka-Kama Basin to Arkhangel’sk and from Velikii Ustiug to Siberia. Ust’-Sysol’sk (now Syktyvkar), Ust’-Vym’, and other trade centers were founded. The shipment of furs, game, and fish out of the territory increased. In the late 16th century a salt mine was opened in Seregov. Iron foundries and mills were built in Niuvchim, Kazhim, and Niuchpas in the mid-18th century, and a petroleum refinery was opened on the Ukhta River in 1745. Grindstones were produced on the Pechora. Fairs were held in a number of towns, including Ust’-Sysol’sk, Nebdino, Ust’-Vym’, and Vazhgort. The Komi people took shape as a group. The Komi peasants were chernososhnye krestiane (tax-paying state peasants) who were dependent on the feudal state. In the first half of the 19th century there were mass uprisings by the peasants against the arbitrary rule of the local authorities and against oppressive conditions (for example, the uprising by the Izhma, Vym’, and Ust’-Kulom peasants).

Under the reforms of the 1860’s the peasants were granted the lands that they were already in fact using. The vestiges of feudalism hampered economic development. However, Russian capitalism, which was broadening its hold on the country, penetrated the territory’s economy. In 1912, 2 million logs were processed on Komi territory, as compared to about 650,000 in 1901. By the beginning of the 20th century there were dozens of artisan shops on the Pechora for the production of chamois. Farming was poorly developed, but hunting and fishing were important in the peasant economy. Property and social stratification among the peasants accelerated, and thousands of peasants left their villages in search of a living.

In the early 20th century the first groups of Social Democrats were formed by political exiles in Ust’-Sysol’sk and Ust’-Tsil’ma. During the Revolution of 1905–07 the Social Democrats organized political demonstrations, rallies, and strikes in a number of cities, including Ust’-Sysol’sk, Ust’-Tsil’ma, and Seregov. After the triumph of the February Revolution of 1917 in Komi as well as throughout the country, dual authority was established: The district provisional committees—local bodies of the bourgeois Provisional Government—were organized, and the soviets were founded in the spring and summer of 1917.

After the triumph of the October Revolution in central Russia, Soviet power was proclaimed in the Komi territory between January and March 1918. In the executive committees of the soviets the majority was held by left-wing Socialist Revolutionaries, as well as by bourgeois nationalist elements who obstructed the implementation of the first decrees of the Soviet government. In the summer and autumn of 1918, Bolshevik organizations were established in the territory, and the Bolsheviks took over the soviets.

Relying on aid from the Anglo-American interventionists and the so-called Provisional Government of the Northern Oblast, which had been established in Arkhangel’sk, local counterrevolutionary elements, kulaks, and White Guard detachments launched a military action against the Soviets in the autumn of 1918. In January and February 1919, A. V. Kolchak’s White Guard detachments penetrated to the Pechora. By November 1919 the White Guards had managed to capture nine-tenths of the territory. However, by the beginning of December 1919 units of the Sixth Red Army and about 20 partisan detachments of local workers and peasants had thrown the Whites back to the upper reaches of the Mezen’ and the Vychegda. Soviet power was restored throughout the territory in March 1920. By a decree of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, the Autonomous Oblast of Komi (Zyrian) was formed as part of the RSFSR on Aug. 22, 1921.

With the fraternal aid of all the peoples of the USSR the territory was transformed from a backward outlying region of Russia into an industrial-agrarian republic during the period of socialist construction. Engineers, technicians, and skilled workers were sent from the country’s industrial centers to work on the republic’s construction projects and in its enterprises. Miners from the Donbas worked in Vorkuta, and oil workers from Azerbaijan trained the oil workers in Ukhta. In a number of Soviet cities, including Moscow, Leningrad, Perm’, and Kirov, national cadres were trained for the industry and agriculture of the Komi territory. Under the prewar five-year plans the lumber industry was developed and new industries were created, including woodworking, shipbuilding, and food processing. The Pechora coal deposits and Ukhta oil fields were exploited for the first time, construction of the Kotlas-Vorkuta railroad was continued, and transportation by highway and air became established. In 1940 the volume of large-scale industrial output was 13 times as great as in 1913. The kolkhoz system triumphed in the countryside. A cultural revolution was successfully carried out: illiteracy was basically eliminated, the tribal and feudal vestiges that had prevailed in the past disappeared, and national cadres of the working class and the people’s intelligentsia developed. Secondary schools, higher educational institutions, scientific and scientific research institutions, libraries, and clubs were founded. The Komi people were consolidated into a socialist nation (natsiia, nation in the historical sense). Under the Constitution of the USSR (1936) the Autonomous Oblast of Komi (Zyrian) was reorganized into an autonomous Soviet socialist republic. On June 23, 1937, the Eleventh Extraordinary Congress of Soviets of the Komi ASSR adopted the Constitution of the Komi ASSR, which reinforced the victory of socialism in the republic.

During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) thousands of soldiers from the Komi ASSR fought at the front. The title of Hero of the Soviet Union was awarded to 16 of them, and more than 13,000 were awarded various orders and medals. During the war working people who had been evacuated from the western regions of the USSR were relocated and given jobs in the Komi ASSR. For heroic labor 2,860 of the leading workers in the Komi economy were awarded orders and medals of the Soviet Union. The center of the coal industry, Vorkuta, and the center of the petroleum industry, Ukhta, developed further, and the Pechora Railroad was completed. The Komi ASSR gave assistance to oblasts and republics that had suffered from the fascist occupation. Lumber, coal, and petroleum products were sent to Leningrad, Stalingrad, Moscow Oblast, Tula Oblast, the Ukraine, and Byelorussia.

Table 1. Production of certain types of goods
Hard coal (tons)273,0008,688,00017,561,00021,988,000
Petroleum (tons)70,000517,000806,0009,128,000
Gas (cu m)1,076,000,0001,000,000,00010,494,000,000
Electric power (kW-hr)75,000,000426,000,0001,113,000,0003,059,000,000
Timber hauled (cu m)726,0006,806,0008,924,00015,514,00021,166,000
Cellulose (ions)164,000
Paper (tons)79,400
Cardboard (tons)16,500
Furniture (rubles)200,000500,0003,000,0009,000,000
Sawed timber (cu m)355,000886,0001,452,0002,342,000
Plywood (cu m)18,00036,00068,600
Chip boards (cu m)31,200
Wood-fiber sheets (cu m)636,000
Building bricks (units)700,00012,000,00089,000,000177,000,000168,000,000

In the postwar years the republic’s economy and culture developed further. In 1971 the volume of all industrial output was 18 times higher than in 1940 and 224 times higher than in 1913. The people’s material and cultural standards of living have risen substantially. As of 1971, 38 Komis had been named Heroes of Socialist Labor, and 1,239 inhabitants of the republic had been awarded orders and medals. The republic was awarded the Order of Lenin in 1966. In recognition of the 50th anniversary of its formation, it received the Order of the October Revolution in 1971. In 1972, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the USSR, the Komi ASSR was awarded the Order of the Friendship of Peoples.

Economy. Under Soviet power the Komi ASSR has been transformed from an outlying agrarian and trading region of Russia into one of the major industrially developed areas, and it has become an important fuel, energy, and lumber base for the USSR.

INDUSTRY. The share of industry in the total gross product of the republic’s economy exceeds 90 percent. Mining, which produces 54 percent of the entire industrial output, holds the top position in the economy. The leading industries, which employ about two-thirds of the entire industrial work force, are logging, coal, petroleum, and gas. Logging is concentrated chiefly in the Vychegda, Pechora, and Mezen’ basins. Under Soviet power a sawmilling, woodworking, and cellulose-paper industry has been established. (See Table 1.)

The chief centers of the woodworking industry are Syktyvkar, Ukhta, Pechora, Zheshart, and Zheleznodorozhnyi. The first stage of a major lumber complex has been built in Syktyvkar. The Sever Furniture Firm has been founded, with factories in Syktyvkar, Pechora, and Ukhta. Wood-fiber boards are produced in Kniazhpogost, and plywood and chipboards in Zheshart.

Coal is mined in the Pechora Coal Basin at the Vorkuta, lun’-Iaga, Khal’mer-Iu, and Inta deposits. The Vorga-Shor deposit is being developed. Petroleum and gas are extracted at major fields in the Timan-Pechora petroleum-and-gas province. (The Vuktyl gas condensate field and the Zapadnyi Tebuk, Pashn’a, and Dzh’era fields are being drilled, and the Usinsk field is being developed.) Petroleum is refined at a refinery in Ukhta, and gas is processed at the Ukhta Gas Processing Plant in Sosnogorsk. The larega titanium-ore deposit is being developed. The electric power industry is represented by a number of central heating and power plants and small thermal power stations. In Syktyvkar, Vorkuta, Inta, Ukhta, and Zheleznodorozhnyi there are machine-repair plants. All the major industrial centers produce building materials (brick, cement, and lime plants), reinforced-concrete construction units, and prefabricated large-panel houses.

The most important light industrial enterprises are a chamois plant (Ust’-Tsil’ma), a leather footwear combine (Syktyvkar), a boot-fulling factory (Vil’gort), and garment factories (Syktyvkar and Vorkuta). The most important food-processing enterprises are a milling combine, a confectionery factory (Syktyvkar), a macaroni factory (Pechora), a saltworks (Seregovo), meat combines (Syktyvkar and Pechora), creameries (in numerous villages), and dairies (in various cities).

AGRICULTURE. The principal branch of agriculture in the Komi ASSR is dairy animal husbandry. In the northern regions reindeer breeding has been developed. There were 25 kolkhozes, 36 sovkhozes, five state industrial enterprises, three poultry farms, and more than 50 subsidiary state agricultural enterprises in 1972. Attached to them are 446,000 hectares (ha) of farmland, including 85,000 ha of plowed fields, 260,000 ha of hayfields, and 88,000 ha of pastures. There are 6,100 tractors (in terms of 15-horsepower units) and 290 grain, potato-harvesting, and silage-collecting combines. Almost two-thirds of the sown area is in the Vychegda floodplain.

Most of the sown area is planted with fodder crops and potatoes. (See Table 2.) Hothouse vegetable farming is developing.

Table 2. Pattern of crop cultivation (in hectares)
Total area29,40090,10096,70084,600
Cereal crops25,40057,00063,8005.300
Fodder crops30012,80015,10065,600

Cereal crops (winter rye, barley, and oats) are cultivated in the south. The boundary of agricultural crops has moved far north, extending beyond the arctic circle. More than 40 percent of the cattle and all the reindeer raised in the republic are distributed in the northern regions. (See Table 3.) In 1971 animal husbandry produced 17,900 tons of meat (2.9 times as much as in 1940), 96.4 million eggs (7.7 times as many as in 1940), and 190,100 tons of milk (three times as much as in 1940).

Table 3. Livestock (at the beginning of the year)
Sheep and goats,118,000122,00088,00051,000

TRANSPORTATION. Under Soviet power all means of transportation have been developed. By 1971 the republic had 1,262 km of railroad track. The Kotlas-Vorkuta line, which was opened in 1941, has been very important for the development of the republic’s productive forces. In the postwar period the Mikun’-Syktyvkar and Mikun’-Koslan lines were built. In 1973 the Sosnogorsk-Troitsko-Pechorsk line was under construction. A number of gas pipelines are in operation, including the Vuktyl-Ukhta-Torzhok (also known as the Northern Lights line), the Voi-Vozh-Sosnogorsk, and the Tebuk-Sosnogorsk. Among the republic’s oil pipelines are the Voi-Vozh-Ukhta and the Tebuk-Ukhta. Under construction in 1973 were the Usinsk-Ukhta-Yaroslavl pipeline, the second thread of the Ukhta-Torzhok gas pipeline, and the Nadym (Tiumen’ Oblast)-Ukhta gas pipeline.

Water transportation plays an important role in the economy. The total length of navigable rivers is 6,100 km. The republic has 7,100 km of roads, with main routes running from Syktyvkar to Murashi, Syktyvkar to Ust’-Kulom, Syktyvkar to Kniazhpogost, and Ukhta to Troitsko-Pechorsk. A network of air routes links Syktyvkar with all parts of the republic and with many cities of the USSR.

Hard coal, lumber and timber, petroleum and petroleum products, carbon black, cellulose, paper, and cardboard are among the products exported from the Komi ASSR. The republic supplies other regions of the Soviet Union with gas by pipeline. Machinery and equipment, metal, building materials, mineral fertilizers, industrial goods, and foodstuffs are brought into the Komi ASSR from the other republics.

INTERNAL DIFFERENCES. The coal industry is concentrated in the northeastern region. Hothouse vegetable raising, dairy animal husbandry, and reindeer breeding are developing in the region. Located in the Pechora Basin are the petroleum, gas, and lumber industries. The most important branch of agriculture is dairy animal husbandry. Reindeer breeding is well developed in the northern part of the Pechora Basin. The southwestern region of the republic is important for the lumber industry and agriculture.

The people’s well-being is steadily improving. Under the eighth five-year plan the cash wages of workers and office employees increased by an average of 26 percent. The population’s cash income in 1971 was 55 percent higher than in 1965. In 1971 social security agencies paid out pensions and allowances totaling 40.3 million rubles. (In addition, 2.1 million rubles went to kolkhoz farmers.) The retail trade turnover increased by 54 percent between 1965 and 1971, totaling 947.6 million rubles. Under the eighth five-year plan, state and cooperative enterprises and organizations built 2.2 million sq m of housing, schools for 34,000 pupils, and preschool institutions to accommodate 15,000 children.


Public health. Until the October Revolution medical services were practically nonexistent on the territory of the present-day Komi ASSR: there were seven hospitals with 147 beds, 38 feldsher and midwife stations, and only 17 physicians (one per 12,200 inhabitants). Epidemic diseases such as typhus and relapsing fever, trachoma, smallpox, and social diseases (tuberculosis and syphilis, for example) were not under control. Infant mortality was very high. Under Soviet power, diseases such as smallpox, typhus, relapsing fever, malaria, and polio have been eliminated.

By 1972 there were 151 hospitals with 14,100 beds (14.3 beds per 1,000 inhabitants), 203 medical outpatient clinics and polyclinics (including 22 dispensaries), 29 public health epidemiological stations, and 470 feldsher and midwife stations. There were 2,800 physicians in the republic in 1972 (one per 352 inhabitants) and 12,200 middle-level medical personnel. In the academic year 1971–72 about 1,700 students were being trained at the medical schools in Syktyvkar and Vorkuta. (In 1971, 699 persons graduated from the republic’s medical schools.) Seregovo, a balneological resort, and five health resorts are located in the Komi ASSR.


Education and cultural affairs. In 1914–15 the territory that later became the Komi ASSR had only 316 schools (mostly church schools), with an enrollment of 15,000 pupils. There were no specialized secondary or higher educational institutions. By contrast, in the academic year 1971–72, 215,500 pupils were attending 782 general-education schools of all types, 11,400 pupils were enrolled in 35 vocational-technical and trade schools, and 18,400 pupils were attending 16 specialized secondary educational institutions. The republic’s two higher educational institutions—a pedagogical institute in Syktyvkar and the Ukhta Industrial Institute—had a total enrollment of 8,700. In addition, 2,300 students were attending a branch of the Leningrad Forestry Academy in Syktyvkar and a branch of the Leningrad Mining Institute in Vorkuta. A university was opened in Syktyvkar in 1972. In that year, 86,400 children were enrolled in 1,179 preschool institutions.

As of Jan. 1, 1972, there were 471 public libraries in the Komi ASSR (5.6 million copies of books and magazines). Located in Syktyvkar is the republic art and local lore museum. There is a museum of local lore in Vorkuta. The republic has three Pioneer Palaces and two young naturalists’ stations.

Scientific institutions. In 1972 there were 18 scientific institutions in the republic, including the Komi Branch of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, the Pechora Coal Research Institute of the USSR Ministry of the Coal Industry, the Komi State Institute for Planning and Research on the Lumber Industry of the USSR Ministry of the Lumber and Wood-processing Industry, and the Komi Branch of the All-Union Research Institute of Natural Gases. Others include the Northern Division of the Research Institute on Foundations and Underground Structures of Gosstroi (State Committee on Construction) and the State Agricultural Experimental Station. In 1972 more than 1,000 staff scientists, including 12 with doctoral degrees and 260 candidates for degrees in science were working in research institutions and higher educational establishments in the Komi ASSR. Research on gas and oil deposits is being done at the branch of the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Natural Gases. The research institute on coal works on the problems of reequipping the mines of the Pechora Coal Basin. The Komi State Institute for Planning and Research on the Lumber Industry does research on problems of scientific and technical progress in the lumber industry.


Press, radio, and television. The republic’s newspapers are lugyd tui (The Bright Path) which has been published since 1918 in Zyrian, Krasnoe znamia (since 1918), and Molodezh Severa (since 1958). In addition, there is a monthly literary and sociopolitical magazine, Voyvyv kodzuv (Northern Star, published since 1946 in Zyrian), as well as a monthly satirical supplement to the newspaper lugyd tui—Chushkanzi (The Wasp), which has been published since 1957 in Zyrian and Russian. In 1971, four city newspapers and 12 raion newspapers were being published in the republic. The Komi ASSR publishing house issues more than 100 books and pamphlets per year.

There are two republic radio programs and one television program in Zyrian and Russian. Programs from Moscow are rebroadcast. The satellite-transmitted program “Orbita” is received in the republic. There are television centers in Syktyvkar, Vorkuta, and Ukhta.

Literature. One of the most important sources of Komi literature is oral poetry, including fairy tales, legends, elegies, epic and lyrical songs, and ditties. Komi folklore was first written down and published in the 19th century by the Russian scholars A. Shegren, N. Nadezhdin, and G. Lytkin. The earliest samples of the ancient Komi written language, which was devised by the missionary Stefan of Perm’, date from the 14th through the 16th century. The foundation of Komi literature was laid by the democratic poet I. A. Kuratov (1839–75), whose verses and narrative poems reflected the oppressed condition of the mid-19th-century Komi peasantry, embodied the ideas and aspirations of the people, and expressed faith in their bright future.

In 1918 the first works of Soviet Komi literature appeared in the newspaper Zyrianskaia zhizn’. The Komi Publishing House was organized in 1920. In the development of Komi literature an important role was played by the magazine Ordym (The Trail), which is now known as Voyvyv kodzuv (Northern Star). Poetry and drama immediately became the leading literary genres. Among the pioneers in the two genres were V. A. Savin (Nebdinsa Vittor, 1888–1943), M. N. Lebedev (1887–1951), V. T. Christalev (Tima Ven’, 1890–1939), and V. I. Lytkin (Illia Vas’, born 1895). Komi poets extolled the October Revolution, the people’s revolutionary fervor, and the beauties of nature in their homeland. Many of their poems became folk songs.

Komi playwrights have achieved great success. Savin’s romantic drama A Little Flower Wilted at Sunrise (1919) praises the heroes who gave their lives for the victory of Soviet power. In his sharply satirical comedies In Heaven (1922) and Restless Soul (1927) religious prejudices, the church, and the clergy are castigated. The historical play The Ust’-Kulom Uprising (1927) re-creates the heroic feat of the Komi peasants who struggled for their rights in the rebellion of 1841–3. Lebedev emerged as an outstanding prose writer and poet before the October Revolution. In the 1920’s he created several musical comedies in verse on themes drawn from folklore—Pretty Girl (1919), The Sorcerer (1920), The Good Woman (1921) and Nastuk (1928). N. P. Popov (Zhugyl’, 1901–71) wrote two slice-of-life plays in 1923 about the prerevolutionary Komi countryside: Who Is to Blame? and Love Comes With Matrimony. In the late 1920’s prose works, particularly essays and short stories about the new socialist reality, became more important in Komi literature.

During the 1930’s, Komi literature matured. Writers began to publish works in the major prose genres. Among the early Komi novellas were Country Morning (1932) by G. A. Fedorov (born 1909), Timka’s Brigade (1932) by I. V. Iz”iurov (born 1910), The White Year (1941) by I. I. Pystin (1907–51), and In the Heart of Parma (1936) by P. G. Doronin (1904–67). V. V. Iukhnin (1907–60) published the novel The Scarlet Ribbon (1941). In 1932 an organizational committee of Komi writers was formed in Syktyvkar, and in 1934 the Komi Section of the Writers’ Union of the USSR was established.

During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) a large detachment of Komi writers went to the front. A. P. Razmyslov (1915–43), V. I. El’kin (1912–42), V. P. Latkin (1907–42), I. N. Simakov (1906–43), and I. A. Osipov (1911–42) gave their lives for the homeland. The style of the frontline poets S. A. Popov (born 1913) and I. M. Vavilin (born 1911) was formed during the war. Plays about the war and about those who were working on the home front were written by Iukhnin, N. M. D’iakonov (born 1911), and S. I. Ermolin (1914–61).

In the postwar period important works were written on the Komi people’s revolutionary past, the Great Patriotic War, and the intensive workdays of postwar construction. Among the most notable of these works are Pystin’s novella Days and Nights at the Front (1946), Fedorov’s novella During the War Days (1952), and Iukhnin’s novel The Lights of the Tundra (parts 1–2, 1949–51). A number of outstanding works appeared, including The Girls of Our Village (1960) by Iz”iurov, A Tale About My Friends (1968) by A. A. Lyiurov (born 1923), The Reindeer Go to the Sea (1960) by V. A. Shiriaev (born 1926), and Back to Our Youth for a Week (1972) by P. F. Shakhov (born 1931).

Among the major achievements of modern Komi literature were S. A. Rochev’s (born 1909) epic trilogy about prerevolutionary and revolutionary events and about the Civil War on the Pechora (Two Friends, The Restless Izhma, and Rejuvenation of the Land, 1951–66) and Fedorov’s novel about Domna Kalikova, the legendary heroine of the Komi people and fearless partisan scout (At Dawn, 1959). Associated with the rapid industrial reorganization of the Komi territory, a once backward outlying region of Russia, is a new, central, literary theme—the formation of national cadres in the unified multinational working class. This theme has been developed in the novella Sixteen Soon (1971) by I. G. Toropov (born 1928), as well as in a number of collections of poetry—Popov’s After the Rain (1969), The Clear Echo of the Taiga (1970) by G. A. Iushkov (born 1939), and The Azure Taiga (1972) by A. E. Vanee (born 1933).

During the postwar years Komi literary studies and criticism went through an intensive formative period. Articles and monographs by Vaneev, A. A. Vezhev (born 1911), V. A. Latysheva (born 1933), A. K. Mikushev (born 1926), and A. N. Fedorova (born 1912) reveal the national distinctiveness of Komi literature and the artistic path of its creators. The leading trends in the development of Komi literature are summarized in Essays in the History of Komi Literature (1958) and Komi Soviet Writers (1968), two works authored by a group of writers.

Translations have made contemporary Komi literature accessible to all Soviet readers. Among the many works that have been translated into languages of the peoples of the Soviet Union and of other socialist countries are novels by Iukhnin, Fedorov, and Rochev, verses and narrative poems by S. A. Popov, Vavilin, F. V. Shcherbakov (born 1914), Iushkov, Vaneev, and V. A. Popov (born 1934), and plays by D’iakonov (The Wedding With a Dowry, 1950) and V. D. Lekanov (born 1918; Rural Evenings, 1954).


Architecture and art. Many significant archaeological finds have been unearthed on the territory of the republic, including Mesolithic wooden and stone tools with geometric designs (the settlement and peat bog near Sindor). Richly decorated vessels with geometric, zoomorphic, and anthropomorphic drawings have been found at the sites of settlements of the Neolithic period, the Copper and Bronze ages, and the Early Iron Age on the Vychegda and Pechora. Bone objects decorated with geometric patterns and dating from the Bronze and Early Iron ages were discovered in the Kanin Cave on the upper Pechora. Numerous works in the “Perm’ animal style” have been discovered. Dating from the first millennium and the beginning of the second millennium A.D., they include cast bronze cult images of real and imaginary birds and animals, as well as human figurines, which are often combined with zoomorphic characters. (Most of the works in this style were found in Ust’-Vym’, Ust’-Un’ia, and along the Podcher’e, or Podcherem, River.) The Vym’ culture (tenth to 14th centuries), which was among the forerunners of the Komi, had a great variety of ornaments and jewelry.

The natural environment promoted the development of wooden architecture, which is similar to the northern Russian style. In the 19th century massive one- and two-story log houses on a high foundation prevailed. Adjacent to them were two-story covered courtyards, with an area for livestock on the bottom floor, and on the top, a hay barn, into which an entrance for horse-driven carts opened directly from the street. The ends of the beams of the gabled roof were frequently cut out in the shape of an imaginary animal, a horse’s head, or a bird. The window platbands were usually painted white, and their upper boards were sometimes carved into various shapes. Churches were built out of wood (for example, the canopied chapel of Paraskeva Piatnitsa in the village of Krivoe, Udorskii Raion, 18th century) or stone (the Church of Stefan of Perm’ in Ust’-Vym’, 1759).

In the Soviet period (particularly since the 1930’s) many construction projects have been carried out in Syktyvkar. The arctic city of Vorkuta was built (1943), as well as the cities of Ukhta (1943), Pechora (1949), Inta (1954), Sosnogorsk (1955), and Mikun’ (1959). The buildings are five- to nine-story brick and prefabricated large-panel houses with modern conveniences, and all of them were constructed according to approved layouts. Characteristic of Ukhta are brick buildings without exterior stucco and with inserted concrete pieces (the railroad station, television center, and Palace Pioneers and Schoolchildren, all based on plans by the architects P. K. Murzin and N. P. Zhizhimontov). In 1958 a section of the Architects’ Union of the USSR was organized in the Komi ASSR.

Komi folk art is associated chiefly with making clothing and household articles. In ornamental weaving, embroidery, and knitting, motifs taken from the ancient culture of the Kama region prevail—for example, rhombuses with asymmetrical hooks and geometrized depictions of female figures. Diverse woven designs, which were sometimes used in richly decorated women’s blouses, towels, and tablecloths, were usually done in white and red thread. However, for knitted articles such as mittens and socks and for braided belts, woolen threads in many different colors were used. Each area of the Komi territory had its favorite colors. In the southern areas women’s headdresses and blouses were decorated with a closely woven, very fine counted-thread embroidery in which red and black were the main colors. Fur items made in the northern Komi ASSR (clothing, footwear, mittens, and handbags) are skillfully finished in “mosaics”—fur appliqués in different colors and pieces of red, blue, and green cloth. Wooden articles such as bows, distaffs, and boxes were decorated with notched, three-sided carving and sometimes with painting as well. Birchbark weaving was widely practiced. Among the articles made were baskets for berries and mushrooms, birchbark baskets, and salt containers. Many of them were decorated with carved or embossed designs. Pictures of horses and birds are found on printed cloth and in paintings on wood.

Professional painters, sculptors, and graphic artists emerged in the Komi ASSR only in the Soviet period. The artist V. V. Poliakov, who returned to Syktyvkar in 1928 after studying in Leningrad, laid the foundation for the development of the graphic arts in his book illustrations, posters, and newspaper drawings. In the 1930’s, M. P. Beznosov, a graphic artist who specialized in book illustrations, and the theater artists V. P. Malakhov and V. A. Bausov began their careers. The Artists’ Union of the Komi ASSR was organized in late 1942. In the 1940’s easel graphic arts developed, including landscapes and drawings on historical revolutionary themes by V. G. Postnikov and portrait sketches by M. P. Beznosov. The painters N. L. Zhilin, V. G. Postnikov, and P. M. Mitiushev created the first genre paintings and portraits in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Sculpture first developed as an art form in the republic in the early 1950’s.

In the 1960’s art made a great deal of progress in the Komi ASSR. Artists depicted the building of a new life in their home-land and portrayed Soviet people taming the harsh nature of the north. (Among the works on these themes are panels and mosaics by S. A. Dobriakov, genre paintings and portraits by R. N. Ermolin and P. I. Semiachkov, the paintings of S. A. Torlopov, which are imbued with romanticism, and lyrical landscapes by N. A. Lemzakov.) Making use of the decorative possibilities of wood, granite, aluminum, and cast iron, the sculptors Iu. G. Borisov, V. N. Mamchenko and V. A. Rokhin created expressive portraits of the people of the north, as well as genre compositions. At the end of the 1950’s engraving began to develop (for example, a series of line engravings on the republic’s natural beauties and way of life, executed by P. A. Bystrov, A. P. Bukharov, and V. I. Kraev).

Music. Komi folk music consists of various kinds of songs: work songs, about family and everyday life, lyrical songs, dirges, and ditties. There are many local forms, including the Izhma improvised work song, the heroic epos, and Vym’ and upper Vychegda epic songs and ballads.

The harmonic basis of Komi folk music is a seven-step scale. Characteristic of old Komi songs are a flowing, descending melody with a relatively narrow range (structured like a recitative or chant) and a single stanza. The melodies of more recent songs have a wider range and are characterized by a verse-and-stanza form. Choral singing (usually two- and three-voiced) is popular, as well as solo performances. Folk instruments include the three-stringed sigudek (bowed and pizzicato variants) and the brungan, a large four- and seven-stringed percussion instrument. Among the wind instruments are chipsans and pelians (a variety of flute with more than one tube), the etika pelian (an elongated reed fife), the bad’pu pelian (a fife with a single beating reed cut into it), and the siume dpelian (a birchbark fife). Percussion folk instruments are the totshkedchan (a type of mallet), the siargan (clack), and the shepherd’s drum. Russian balalaikas and accordions are also important in Komi popular music. The music scholars P. A. Anisimov, S. A. Kondrat’ev, A. G. Osipov, and P. I. Chistalev and the philologists A. K. Mikushev and F. V. Plesovskii have devoted a great deal of attention to collecting and studying Komi folk songs.

Professional musicians emerged after the October Revolution. Borrowing from the national folklore, Komi musicians have created many major works that have been staged in Syktyvkar, including the Komi national music drama The Ust’-Kulom Uprising by A. A. Vorontsov (1942), S. A. Kondrat’ev’s The Jubilee Cantata (1946), and G. N. Dekhtiarev’s opera Thunderstorm Over Ust’-Kulom (1960). The Komi Republic Musical Theater produced the first Komi national ballet, Ia. S. Perepelitsa’s Iag-Mort (Man of the Forest, 1961), as well as his operetta Songs to the Stars (1963), P. I. Chistalev’s opera On the Ilych (1971) and his musical comedy Flowers in the Snow (1964), and B. I. Arkhimandritov’s opera Domna Kalikova (1967). Song composers include V. A. Savin, A. G. Osipov, P. I. Chistalev, V. I. Mastenitsa, and Ia. S. Perepelitsa. Among the republic’s most outstanding singers are Honored Artists of the Komi ASSR P. A. Osipov and E. A. Orlova and People’s Artist of the Komi ASSR V. V. Eseva.

As of 1973 the Komi ASSR had several music organizations: the Komi Republic Musical Theater (founded in 1958), the Philharmonic Orchestra (founded in 1939), and the Komi ASSR Song and Dance Ensemble (founded in 1939). There is a school of music in Syktyvkar (open in 1943), as well as one in Vorkuta (founded in 1969). In addition, the republic has 37 urban and 12 rural music schools for children.


Theater. The theater arts developed in the Komi ASSR only after the October Revolution. In the early years of Soviet power, theater circles were organized at clubs, reading cottages, and schools. In the town of Ust’-Sysol’sk a permanent amateur troupe was organized under the direction of the poet, playwright, composer, and public figure V. A. Savin. In 1917 the troupe staged Gogol’s The Marriage in Zyrian. Savin’s troupe received the official name Sykomtevchuk (the Ust’-Sysol’sk Komi Theater Association) in 1919. It staged plays by Savin (for instance, The Whirlpool, Smoke, The Ust’-Kulom Uprising, and the antireligious comedies In Heaven and In Hell), N. P. Popov (Who Is to Blame? and Love Comes With Matrimony), and the one-act musical comedies of M. N. Lebedev, as well as works by other playwrights. In 1930, Savin organized theater courses for the actors of Sykomtevchuk and the most gifted participants in amateur performing groups. The graduates of the courses became the nucleus of KIPPT (the Komi Mobile Instructional Demonstration Theater), which was active until 1936. Its repertoire included one-act plays and literary montages.

Founded in 1936 in Syktyvkar, the permanent Komi Drama Theater consisted of graduates of the Leningrad School of the Stage Arts (including former participants in the KIPPT). It staged Gorky’s Egor Bulychov and Others (1936) and a number of plays by Komi playwrights, including The Deep Barrier (1938), The Crows (1939), and Domna Kalikova (1942) by N. M. D’iakonov and S. I. Ermolin. During the Great Patriotic War the Komi Drama Theater presented A. E. Korneichuk’s The Front, K. M. Simonov’s Russian People, and L. M. Leonov’s The Invasion. After the war, its productions included D’iakonov’s The Wedding With a Dowry, a play that was also staged in theaters throughout the USSR as well as in Poland, Hungary and the German Democratic Republic.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s national drama continued to hold the principal place in the theater’s repertoire. Among the most popular plays were I. I. Pystin’s Storm Cloud Years (1950), G. A. Fedorov’s In the Taiga (1951), V. V. Iukhnin’s The Lights of the Tundra (1954), and G. M. Litinskii’s Ivan Kuratov (1960). Other outstanding plays include G. A. Iushkov’s The Mischievous One (1963) and There Are Some Like That (1971), M. E. Kalinin’s The Pechora Story (1966), and V. D. Lekanov’s Life’s Pitfalls (1969) and Country Evenings (1969). A number of works by Soviet Russian playwrights have been staged, including N. F. Pogodin’s Man With a Shotgun (1941) and The Kremlin Chimes (1951). In both productions the role of Lenin was played by P. A. Mysov. Pogodin’s The Third Pathétique (1960), A. P. Shtein’s Between Downpours (1966), D. I. Zorin’s The Eternal Source (1970, with I. I. Avramov playing Lenin), and I. F. Popov’s The Family (1953, with E. A. Popov as Volodia Ul’ianov) are also among the many Soviet Russian plays that have been presented in the Komi ASSR.

Of great importance for the development of the Komi theater was the work of V. A. Savin and N. M. D’iakonov, who were directors, playwrights, and actors, and the contributions of the directors and actors P. A. Mysov, V. P. Vyborov, B. P. Semechkov, G. A. Mirskii, S. I. Ermolin, A. G. Zin, S. P. Butikov, A. K. Ulitin, and N. V. Urodov. Among the republic’s leading theater people in 1973 were I. I. Avramov (chief director of the Komi Drama Theater) and G. P. Sidorova, both of whom have been named People’s Artists of the RSFSR and of the Komi ASSR, and N. A. Surkova, S. S. Rostislavina, G. P. Lytkina, V. N. Suslennikov, E. A. Popov, M. A. Krasil’nikov, and V. N. Rassykhaev, all of whom are People’s Artists of the Komi ASSR. Also outstanding in the theater are Honored Artists of the RSFSR A. S. Rusina, I. N. Krivoshein, and Iu. I. Trosheva and Honored Artists of the Komi ASSR K. D. Lekanova, N. N. Turubanov, and M. A. Danilov.

In Vorkuta there is a drama theater (a musical drama theater from 1942 to 1956) and a puppet theater (opened in 1956).



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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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