Krasnoyarsk (Russian: Красноярск) is a city and the administrative center of Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, located on the Yenisei River. It is the third largest city in Siberia after Novosibirsk and Omsk, with a population of 973,826 (2010 Census). Krasnoyarsk is an important junction of the Trans-Siberian Railway and one of Russia’s largest producers of aluminium.
The city is notable for its nature landscapes; author Anton Chekhov judged Krasnoyarsk to be the most beautiful city in Siberia.
The city was founded on August 19, 1628 as a Russian border fort when a group of service class people from Yeniseysk led by Andrey Dubenskoy arrived at the confluence of the Kacha and Yenisei Rivers and constructed fortifications intended to protect the frontier from attacks of native peoples who lived along Yenisei and its tributaries. Along with Kansk to the east, it represented the southern limit of Russian expansion in the Yenisei basin during the seventeenth century. In the letter to Tsar the Cossacks reported:
…The town of trunks (log buildings) we have constructed and around the place of fort, we the servants of thee, our lord, have embedded posts and fastened them with double bindings and the place of fort have strengthened mightily…
The fort was named Krasny Yar (Russian: Кра́сный Яр) after the Yarin (a dialect of Khakas) name of the place it was built, Kyzyl Char (‘red steep-riverbank’), which was translated as Krasny Yar (using the old meaning of krasny). An intensive growth of Krasnoyarsk began with the arrival of the Siberian Route (the road M53 nowadays) in 1735 to 1741 which connected the nearby towns of Achinsk and Kansk with Krasnoyarsk and with the rest of Russia.
In 1749, a meteorite with a mass of about 700 kilograms (1,500 lb) was found 145 miles (233 km) south of Krasnoyarsk. It was excavated by Peter Simon Pallas in 1772 and transported to Krasnoyarsk and subsequently to St. Petersburg. The Krasnoyarsk meteorite is important because it was the first pallasite ever studied and the first meteorite ever etched.
The name Krasnoyarsk was given in 1822 when the village of Krasny Yar was granted town status and became the administrative center of Yeniseysk Governorate. In the 19th century, Krasnoyarsk was the center of the Siberian Cossack movement. By the end of the 19th century, Krasnoyarsk had several manufacturing facilities and railroad workshops and an engine-house. Growth continued with the discovery of gold and the arrival of a railroad in 1895.
In the Russian Empire, Krasnoyarsk was one of the places to which political exiles were banished. For example, eight Decembrists were deported from St. Petersburg to Krasnoyarsk after the failure of the revolt.
After the Russian Revolution of 1917, during the periods of centralized planning (Five Year Plans) numerous large plants and factories were constructed in Krasnoyarsk: Sibtyazhmash, the dock yard, the paper factory, the hydroelectric power station (now the fifth largest in the world and the second in Russia), and the river port.In 1934, Krasnoyarsk Krai, was formed, with Krasnoyarsk as its administrative center.
During Stalinist times, Krasnoyarsk was a major center of the gulag system. The most important labor camp was the Kraslag or Krasnoyarsky ITL (1938-c.1960) with the two units located in Kansk and Reshyoty. In the city of Krasnoyarsk itself, the Yeniseylag or Yeniseysky ITL labor camp was prominent as well during World War II (c. 1940-41).
During World War II, dozens of factories were evacuated from Ukraine and Western Russia to Krasnoyarsk and nearby towns, stimulating the industrial growth of the city. After the war additional large plants were constructed: the aluminum plant, the metallurgic plant, the plant of base metals and many others.
In the late 1970s, the Soviet Union began constructing a phased array radar station at Abalakova, near Krasnoyarsk, which violated the ABM Treaty. Beginning in 1983, the United States demanded its removal, until the Soviet Union admitted the radar station was a violation in 1989. Equipment was slowly removed from the site and by 1992 it was officially declared to be dismantled, though the equipment from the site was likely relocated to a new site near Komsomolsk-na-Amure. Krasnoyarsk was also a home to Krasnoyarsk Northeast air base, which was turned into living blocks after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and beginning of privatization, many large plants and factories, such as the Krasnoyarsk Aluminum Plant, became owned by alleged criminal authorities and oligarchs, while others were declared bankrupt. The economic transition resulted in a dramatic rise in unemployment and numerous strikes.
The best known financial scandal of the second half of 1990s happened when ownership of the Krasnoyarsk Aluminum Plant by a known Krasnoyarsk businessman Anatoliy Bykov had been canceled after he was accused of murdering his partner, Vilor Struganov. The accusation eventually turned out to be false. The Krasnoyarsk plants ownership problems continue through the early 21st century since nearly all of them are owned either by monopolistic financial groups or by oligarchs.
Since the election of Pyotr Pimashkov as the mayor of Krasnoyarsk in 1996, the appearance of the city gradually improved: the old historical buildings were restored, the asphalt walkways were replaced with paving-stone, and numerous squares and recreation areas with fountains were either restored or constructed from scratch. Now the majority of the city keeps only a few traces of its former, drab, post-collapse look.