a city in Smolensk Oblast, RSFSR. Situated on the Viaz’ma River, a tributary of the Dnieper. Large railroad junction with lines to Moscow, Smolensk, Leningrad, Kaluga, and Briansk. Population, 44,000 (1970).
The origins of Viaz’ma date to the ninth or tenth century; it is first mentioned in 1239. Lithuanian feudal lords seized the city in 1403, and it was finally annexed to the Russian state in 1494. During the Patriotic War of 1812, a battle took place on October 22 between Napoleon’s retreating army and Russian troops. The advance guard of the Russian Army under Lieutenant General M. A. Miloradovich and a cossack detachment of General M. I. Platov attacked the rearguard corps of Marshal L. Davout to the east of Viaz’ma and cut off his line of retreat. Owing to the aid of the corps of Viceroy E. Beauharnais and J. Poniatowski, Davout succeeded in breaking through. However, the French Army’s attempt (nearly 37,000 French soldiers against 25,000 Russian soldiers) to hold the heights around Viaz’ma and the city itself did not succeed. In the evening the Russian troops took the city, which was set on fire by the French, by storm. The French troops lost 6,000 in dead and wounded; 2,500 were taken prisoner. Russian losses totaled about 2,000 persons. Two monuments were erected in Viaz’ma in honor of this victory of the Russian soldiers. During the Great Patriotic War (1941-45) fierce battles took place between the Soviet Army and fascist German troops near Viaz’ma during the Battle of Moscow (1941-42). From Oct. 7, 1941, to Mar. 12, 1943, Viaz’ma was occupied by the Hitlerites. Much of the city was destroyed, but it has been rebuilt. Among the architectural monuments that have been preserved are the Odigitriia Smolenskaia Church (constructed in the 1570’s-1590’s; rebuilt in 1621), the Troitskii Cathedral (constructed in the 1570’s-1590’s; reconstructed in the 17th century), and the Spasskaia Church (1692; architect O. D. Startsev).
Viaz’ma has machine-building enterprises, railroad transportation enterprises, construction materials enterprises, and enterprises of the textile and food industries. There is an electrical machine-building technicum and a medical school. The city also has a history and regional studies museum and a sculptured monument by E. V. Vuchetich to Lieutenant General M. G. Efremov, who perished in the vicinity of Viaz’ma.
REFERENCEViaz’ma. Smolensk, 1953.
a river in Smolensk Oblast, RSFSR, a left-bank tributary of the Dnieper River. Length, 147 km; basin 1,350 sq km. In ancient times it made up part of the route which linked by portages the upper reaches of the Volga, Oka and Dnieper rivers. The city of Viaz’ma is located on the river.