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(mĭnsk, Rus. mēnsk), city (1990 est. pop. 1,610,000), capital of Belarus and of the Minsk region, on a tributary of the Berezina. It is a railroad junction with machine, machine-tool, tractor, automobile, textile, and food-processing factories. It is the headquarters of the Commonwealth of Independent StatesCommonwealth of Independent States
(CIS), community of independent nations established by a treaty signed at Minsk, Belarus, on Dec. 8, 1991, by the heads of state of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Between Dec. 8 and Dec.
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. First mentioned in 1067, it was an outpost on the road from Kiev to Polotsk and was part of the Polotsk principality. It became the capital of the Minsk principality in 1101 and part of Lithuania in 1326. At the end of the 15th cent. it became a great craft and trade center. Joined to Poland in 1569, it passed to Russia in the second partition of Poland (1793). The city's industrial development began in the 1870s. It was one of the largest Jewish centers of Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, and before World War II some 40% of the population was Jewish. From 1941 to 1943, Minsk was a concentration center for Jews prior to their extermination by the Nazis. Although the city was heavily damaged in the war, several monuments remain. These include a former 17th-century Bernardine convent and the 17th-century Ekaterin Cathedral (formerly called the Petropavlovsk church). Minsk is a major cultural, educational, and artistic center. It is the site of the Academy of Sciences of Belarus, the Belarusian State Univ., the Belarusian National Library, and the Minsk Art Museum.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the capital of the Byelorussian SSR; one of the most important industrial, cultural, and scientific centers of the USSR. Center of Minsk Oblast. Situated on both banks of the Svisloch’ River (a tributary of the Berezina) at 200–220 m above sea level, Minsk occupies an area of 158.7 sq km. The average January temperature is—6.9°C, and the average July temperature, 17.8°C. The annual precipitation is 646 mm. At the beginning of 1973 the population was 1,037,500 (131,600 in 1926; 237,500 in 1939; 509,500 in 1959; and 917,000 in 1970). The city is divided into seven districts.

History. Minsk was first mentioned in a chronicle in 1067 as a fortress of the Principality of Polotsk. From the 12th century it was the center of the Principality of Minsk, and from the 14th century, it was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The Magdeburg Law was introduced in the city in 1499. Minsk had extensive trade ties with other cities both in and beyond Byelo-russia. From the 16th century the city was the center of the Minsk voevodstvo (territory under a military governor). It was destroyed several times during the liberation war of the Ukrainian and Byelorussian peoples (1648–54), the Russo-Polish War of 1654–57, and the Northern War of 1700–21. Under the Second Partition of the Kingdom of Poland (1793), Minsk became part of the Russian Empire. It was made the center of Minsk Province in 1796.

The Moscow-Brest and Libavo-Romensk railroads were built in the 1870’s. During the same decade Narodnik (Populist) circles were organized in Minsk. Marxist circles, which were founded during the 1880’s, had ties with the Liberation of Labor group, the St. Petersburg Union of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class, and various Russian cities. The city’s first workers’ strike took place in 1876. The First Congress of the RSDLP was held in Minsk on Mar. 1–3, 1898, and in 1900 the Unity Congress of the Social Democrats of Lithuania and Poland took place in the city. An Iskra group was founded in 1901, and in 1903, the Minsk group of the RSDLP. The workers of Minsk were active in the Russian Revolution of 1905–07, participating in the strike in January 1905, the demonstration of May 1, the October All-Russian Political Strike, and the mass meeting of October 18, which was fired on by tsarist troops (the Kurlovskii shooting). They also took part in the general strike at the time of the December Armed Uprising in Moscow.

From October 1915, Minsk was a frontline city and headquarters for the staff of the Western Front and other military organizations and institutions. M. V. Frunze, V. G. Knorin, I. E. Liubimov, V. S. Sergeev, and V. V. Fomin were among those who carried on revolutionary work among the workers and among the soldiers of the city’s garrison. During the first days of the February Revolution of 1917 the workers of Minsk and the soldiers of the garrison, led by the Bolsheviks, disarmed the gendarmerie and the police, freed the city’s political prisoners, and elected the Minsk soviet of workers’ and soldiers’ deputies, which played an important role in preparing and carrying out the October Revolution of 1917 in Minsk and on the Western Front. The city committee of the RSDLP (Bolshevik), which had been elected in the summer of 1917, began publishing the first legal Bolshevik newspaper in Byelorussia—Zviazda. Soviet power was established in the city on Oct. 25 (Nov. 7), 1917. From February to Dec. 10, 1918, the city was occupied by German troops. After the formation of the Byelorussian SSR on Jan. 1, 1919, Minsk became the capital of the republic. The First Congress of the Soviets of Byelorussia, which adopted the first constitution of the Byelorussian SSR, was held in the city on Feb. 2–3, 1919. From Aug. 8, 1919, to July 11, 1920, the city was occupied by the troops of bourgeois Poland.

During the period of socialist construction Minsk became a major industrial, scientific, and cultural center of Byelorussia. The plants that had existed prior to the October Revolution were modernized, and new enterprises were built, including machine-building and machine-tool plants, the Kommunarka confectionery plant, and the Oktiabr’ garment factory. In 1929 tramlines were put into service, and bus routes were opened.

From June 28, 1941, to July 3, 1944, Minsk was occupied by the fascist German aggressors. Despite the terror imposed by the Germans, the city and district committees of the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Byelorussia were active in the city, and the underground newspapers Zviazda and Minskii bol’shevik were published. More than 9,000 residents of Minsk were active in Communist underground groups and in partisan detachments, including the Heroes of the Soviet Union V. S. Omel’ianiuk, I. V. Kabushkin, I. P. Kozinets, N. A. Kedyshko, E. V. Klumov, E. G. Mazanik, and M. B. Osipova.

The fascist German occupiers killed more than 300,000 people in Minsk and the surrounding area and left the city in ruins. Minsk was rebuilt between 1946 and 1950. In 1950 the output of the city’s enterprises was almost twice that of 1940. New plants and combines were opened in the postwar years, and new institutes, technicums, and schools were founded. A trolley line was opened in 1952, and a children’s railroad in 1955. The Minsk-Molodechno and Minsk-Osipovichi railroad lines were electrified. On Dec. 3, 1966, the city was awarded the Order of Lenin.

Economy. The gross industrial product in 1972 was 46 times that of 1940. Minsk produces a fourth of the total industrial output of Byelorussia (1972), including all the tractors, radios and television sets, watches, cameras, motorcycles, bicycles, refrigerators, power transformers, and plaster articles made in the republic, as well as more than 80 percent of the wool fabric, 48 percent of the ball bearings, and 34 percent of the leather foot-wear. A large thermal electric power plant connected to the Byelorussian power system is the city’s electric power base. Since 1960 gas has been supplied to Minsk from Dashava (the Ukrainian SSR). Machine building and metalworking is the leading branch of industry, accounting for 58 percent of the city’s industrial output (1972). The most outstanding enterprises of this branch include the Minsk Tractor Plant, the Minsk Motor Vehicle Plant, the motor plant, two machine tool plants, a transfer lines plant, a ball-bearings plant, a refrigerator plant, an electrical equipment plant, a heating equipment plant, an electronic computer plant, a springs plant, an instruments plant, and the Udarnik Plant, which produces loading machines and snow-clearing machines.

Minsk is an important center for light industry, which produced 22 percent of the city’s industrial output in 1972. The wool industry, a new branch of the textiles industry, was established in the city in the postwar period. Its most important enterprises are fine-fiber and worsted combines, a leather plant, a knitwear factory, and a number of garment factories. The food-processing industry, which accounts for a considerable share of the city’s industrial output (11.8 percent), is represented by confectionery and tobacco factories, a brewery, a margarine plant, bakeries, and meat, milling, and dairy combines. The building materials industry (plaster and porcelain plants, two prefabricated house plants, and building materials and prefabricated large-block structural components combines) has developed considerably, as has the chemical industry (plants manufacturing medical and endocrinal preparations, varnishes and paints, and furniture). More than half the output of the republic’s publishing industry comes from Minsk (the House of the Press and the Printing Combine).

Minsk is a major transportation junction. Railroad lines leave the city for Moscow, Brest, Gomel’, and Vilnius, and the main highway from Brest to Moscow passes through the city. Minsk is linked by air routes with many cities in the USSR. In 1972 the total area of housing was 9.9 million sq m (6.5 times greater than in 1940).


Architecture. Baroque monasteries (including the monasteries of the Bernardine monks and nuns, both of which date from the 17th century) and the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul (the Church of St. Catherine; 1622) have been preserved. Most of contemporary Minsk, however, dates from the Soviet period, when the city was basically reconstructed. In the 1920’s and 1930’s large complexes and buildings were built, including the Lenin State Library of the Byelorussian SSR (1930–32, architect G. L. Lavrov), the Government House of the Byelorussian SSR (1930–33, architect I. G. Langbard), the main building of the Academy of Sciences of the Byelorussian SSR (1935–39, architect Langbard), and the Belarus’ Hotel (1938, architect A. P. Voinov). Residential complexes were also constructed. Under the fascist German occupation, 74 percent of Minsk’s housing was destroyed.

During the postwar years the city was reconstructed and modernized according to a general plan. A draft of the plan was completed in 1946 by the architects M. N. Androsov and N. E. Trakhtenberg, and the general plan was made more precise in 1952, 1958, 1959, 1962, and 1964. It called for the creation of a new public center and for a clear, functional demarcation of industrial and residential districts. In the 1950’s and 1960’s a new public center was created for the capital by the architects G. P. Badanov, M. O. Barshch, S. B. Botkovskii, A. P. Voinov, V. A. KoroP, S. S. Musinskii, M. P. Parusnikov, G. V. Sysoev, N. E. Trakhtenberg, and N. A.-E. Shpigel’man. It consists of the Lenin Square, Tsentral’naia Square, Pobeda Square, and lakub Kolas Square ensembles, which are connected by Lenin Prospect. On these squares and on Lenin Prospect multistory residential, administrative, and public buildings were erected, including the building of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Byelorussia (begun in 1940–41 and completed in 1947, architects A. P. Voinov and V. N. Varaksin), the State Bank (1950, architect M. P. Parusnikov), and the Main Post Office (1950–53, architect V. A. KoroP). The Privokzal’naia Square ensemble, which also dates from the postwar period, was designed in 1947 by the architects B. R. Rubanenko, L. S. Golubovskii, and A. R. Korabel’nikov. Mikroraions (neighborhood units) have been built in undeveloped areas (the first were established in the Volgograd and Orlov Street districts) and in modernized districts (Vera Khoruzhei Street, Chkalov Street, and Opanskii Street).

Since 1968 the center of Minsk has been developing along the Svisloch’ River. In accordance with the new general plan (1965, architects L. G. Gafo and E. L. Zaslavskii) a system of alternate routes for Lenin Prospect has been created, as well as a system of main arteries circling the city. Large residential districts are being built (Chizhovka, Serebrianka, and Vostok). The most important buildings of the 1960’s include the city executive committee building (1964, architects S. S. Musinskii and G. V. Sysoev), the residential area on Tolbukhin Street (1966, chief architect lu. V. Shpit), the Palace of Sports (1966, architects S. D. Filimonov and V. N. Malyshev), the Water Sports Palace complex (1965–69; architect O. B. Ladygina, engineer I. B. Zybitsker), and the lubileinaia Hotel (1968, main architect G. M. Benediktov).

In Minsk there are a number of monuments, including one to V. I. Lenin (bronze and granite, 1933; sculptor M. G. Manizer, architect I. G. Langbard). An obelisk commemorates the heroism of the fighting men of the Soviet Army and the partisans who fell in the Great Patriotic War (the Monument of Victory, granite, 1954; architects G. V. Zaborskii and V. A. KoroP; sculptors Z. I. Azgur, A. O. BembeP, A. K. Glebov, and S. I. Selikhanov). There is also a monument to lakub Kolas (bronze, 1972; sculptor Z. I. Azgur) and one to lanka Kupala (bronze, 1972; sculptor A. A. Anikeichik).

Educational, scientific, and cultural institutions. According to the census of 1897, 50.9 percent of the population was illiterate. In the 1913–14 school year 5,000 students were enrolled in 62 schools, including 49 elementary schools and 13 Gymnasiums, six of which were for boys and seven for girls. Under Soviet power Minsk became one of the nation’s cultural centers. In 1973 there were 360 preschool institutions with a total enrollment of 67,500. In the 1972–73 academic year 166,000 students were enrolled in 171 general education schools of all types, 15,000 students in 29 vocational and technical schools, and 33,000 students in 22 specialized secondary institutions. Minsk has 13 higher educational institutions, the largest of which are the Byelorussian State University; the polytechnic institute; the institutes of the national economy, the mechanization of agriculture, technology, and the theater arts; a conservatory; a pedagogical institute; a medical institute; and an institute of radio engineering. In the 1972–73 academic year about 84,000 students were enrolled in higher educational institutions.

As of Jan. 1, 1973, there were 205 public libraries in Minsk (4.8 million copies of books and journals), as well as a number of republic libraries—the Lenin State Library of the Byelorussian SSR, the Gorky Government Library, the la. Kolas Fundamental Library of the Academy of Sciences of the Byelorussian SSR, the Republic Scientific Library of Pedagogy, the Republic Scientific Library of Medicine, and the Republic Scientific Library of Agriculture. The city has eight museums: the State Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War, the House-Museum of the First Congress of the RSDLP, the State Museum of the Byelorussian SSR, the State Art Museum of the Byelorussian SSR, the Museum of Zoology, the Museum of Geology, and the la. Kupala and la. Kolas literary museums. Located in Minsk are the la. Kupala Byelorussian State Academic Theater, the Byelorussian Bolshoi Theater of Opera and Ballet, the M. Gorky Russian Drama Theater, the Byelorussian Republic Theater for Young Audiences, the Musical Comedy Theater, and the Puppet Theater. The Philharmonic Society (the State Symphony Orchestra, the State Orchestra of Folk Instruments, and the Chamber Orchestra), the State Academic Choir, the State Folk Chorus, and the State Dance Ensemble have their headquarters in the city. There is also a circus. Minsk has 48 clubs, 70 motion-picture projectors, three houses of Pioneers, and other extracurricular institutions.

Located in Minsk are the Academy of Sciences of the Byelorussian SSR and most of its institutes, including those of physics, mathematics, solid-state physics and semiconductors, heat and mass exchange, nuclear power, technical cybernetics, physical organic chemistry, general and inorganic chemistry, peat, geochemistry and geophysics, experimental botany, and photobiology. The academic institutes of economics, history, and philosophy and law, as well as the la. Kupala Institute of Literature, the la. Kolas Institute of Linguistics, and the Institute of Party History, which is subordinate to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Byelorussia, study problems in the social sciences. The Minsk research institutes of Union and republic branch departments make significant contributions to the development of the republic’s economy. Among them are the Central Research Institute of the Mechanization and Electrification of Agriculture of the Nonchernozem Zone, the Byelorussian Research Institute of Land Reclamation and Water Use Management, the Byelorussian Research Institute of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry, the Byelorussian Research Institute of Geological Analysis, the Research Institute of Construction and Architecture, and the Byelorussian Research Institute of the Economics and Organization of Agriculture. Scientific research is also conducted in the city’s higher educational institutions.

Among the publishing houses located in the city are Belarus’, Khudozhestvennaia Literatura, Nauka i Tekhnika, Narodnoe Prosveshchenie, Vysshaia Shkola, Urozhai, the Publishing House of the Byelorussian State University, the Publishing House of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Byelorussia, and Polymia. The Chief Editorial Board of the Byelorussian Soviet Encyclopedia was established in 1967. As of 1972, 119 journals, 11 republic newspapers, the oblast and city newspaper Minskaia prauda (since 1950), and the city newspaper Vechernii Minsk (1967; in Byelorussian and Russian) were published in Minsk.

Minsk receives the first all-Union radio program and the Maiak station and transmits the first republic and second mixed Union-republic programs (total volume, 40.5 hours of broadcasting a day; 18 hours in Byelorussian). Republic television broad-casts over two programs (total average daily volume, 25.7 hours; 7.7 hours in Byelorussian).

Public health. In prerevolutionary Minsk (1913) there were 23 hospitals with 835 beds, and there were only 109 physicians. At the end of 1972 there were 20 hospitals with more than 10,000 beds, or more than ten per 1,000 inhabitants. (In 1940 there were 20 hospitals with 3,400 beds.) In 1972 outpatient polyclinic services were provided by 104 medical institutions (17 in 1940). There were also 14 hygiene and epidemiological stations (two in 1940). As of 1972, Minsk had 6,900 physicians (one per 151 inhabitants; in 1940, 1,083 physicians, or one per 250 inhabitants). The health resort of Zhdanovichi, which includes a sanatorium and a mineral spring, is located 12 km from Minsk.


Martinkevich, F. S. Minsk. Moscow, 1958.
Zagorul’skii, E. M. Drevnii Minsk. Minsk, 1963.
Historyia Minska. Minsk, 1967.
Skarabagaty, U. V. Bol’sheviki Minska u peryiad padrykhtouki i praviadzennia Kastrychnitskay sotsyialistychnay revaliutsyi. Minsk, 1957.
O partiinom podpoVe v Minske v gody Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny. Minsk, 1961.
Paulovich, L. A., and A. la. Malyshau. Pramyslovasts’ Minska. Minsk, 1972.
Minsku900 god: Rekamendatsyiny pakazaVnik litaratury. Minsk, 1967.



the name of a series of general-purpose digital electronic computers developed at the Scientific Research Institute of Electronic Computers (formerly the design bureau of the Minsk Computer Plant); it is one of the most common Soviet general-purpose computers. Minsk computers have been produced since 1959 (see Table 1). To ensure efficient operation for the majority of users, the structure, basic elements, design, and software of the various models of computers have been standardized; the computers of the Minsk series are distinguished by high performance at relatively low cost.

A characteristic feature of the Minsk computers is that each model belongs to a family, which is built around a basic model. The Minsk-1 is the basic model for the first-generation family. It was designed to solve scientific and engineering problems involving a significant amount of computation. To broaden the class of problems that could be solved on the Minsk-1, it was modernized: devices were added for the input of textual information and the direct output of data over telegraph lines (Minsk-11), and the storage capacity was enlarged (Minsk-12). The Minsk-14 combined the advantages of the Minsk-11 and Minsk-12.

The Minsk-2, the first serial semiconductor computer of the second-generation Minsk family in the USSR, was designed to solve both economic planning and scientific-technical problems. It consists of a processor with binary notation, which can operate in both fixed-point and floating-point modes, and a minimum set of input-output devices. The Minsk-22, with increased storage capacity and additional punched-card input-output devices with alphanumeric printing, was created for the efficient solution of economic planning problems. Improvement of the Minsk-22 led to the creation of the Minsk-22M. The need that arose in the 1960’s for computers for complex information systems requiring decimal notation, operations on symbolic data, and high-speed input-output devices brought about the appearance of a new model, the Minsk-23. Designed especially to process economic data, the Minsk-23 has advanced logic, decimal notation, and the capability of interfacing with a large number of peripherals and solving several problems simultaneously. It was the basis for the

Table 1. Main characteristics of the Minsk digital computers
 Minsk-1 (1959)Minsk-11 (1961)Minsk-12 (1962)Minsk-14 (1962)Minsk-2 (1963)Minsk-22 (1964)Minsk-22M (1966)Minsk-23 (1966)Minsk-32 (1968)
Number of addresses2222222variable2
Capacity (bits)30303030373737737
Average speed (operations per sec)2,0002,000–3,0002,000–3,0002,000–3,0005,000–6,0005,000–6,0005,000–6,0007,00025,000
Immediate–access memory capacity (words)1,0241,0242,0482,0484,0968,1928,19240,00016,384–65,536
access time (jmsec)40404040242424155
External magnetic–tape storage capacity (words)65,00065,000260,000260,000400,0001,600,0001,600,00060,000,00060,000,000
exchange rate (words/sec)2,5002,5002,50020,00064,000
Power consumption (kVA)1212–141515410106–1220
Cost (rubles)55,00065,00090,000100,000100,000220,000190,000160,000255,000

creation of a number of automated systems (for example, the Aeroflot passenger ticketing and reservations system and an automated production-control system at the Novocherkassk Electric Locomotive Plant).

The Minsk-32 multiprogramming computer (also a second-generation machine) completes the Minsk series. The Minsk-32’s area of application includes scientific and technical computations and the solution of information and logical problems characterized by the storage and processing of large quantities of data. The versatility of the Minsk-32 is ensured by a set of instructions that can operate on both words and individual symbols, the presence of binary and decimal arithmetic, flexibility of structure, and the possibility of interfacing with a large number of peripherals and with other computers.

The collection of features common to the Minsk computers—uniformity of structure, design, and basic elements; programming compatibility; high reliability; and suitability for use in automatic management systems for industrial enterprises—has brought about their very wide distribution among computers of their class in the USSR.


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


the capital of Belarus: an industrial city and educational and cultural centre, with a university (1921). Pop.: 1 709 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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