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BREST (REPUBLIC OF BELARUS)


Official web page:

http://city-brest.gov.by/

Geographical location

Brest lies astride the Mukhavets River, that is known to Bresters as "the river".

To the east of Brest the Dnieper-Bug Canal was built in the mid-nineteenth century to join the river to the Pina, a tributary of the Pripyat River which in turn drains into the Dnieper River. Thus Brest has a shipping route all the way to the Black Sea.

History

The city was founded by the Slavs. As a town, Brest – Berestye in Kievan Rus – was first mentioned in the Primary Chronicle in 1019 when the Kievan Rus took the stronghold from the Poles. It is one of the oldest cities in Belarus.

In 1409 it was a meeting place of King Władysław II Jagiełło, duke Vytautas and Tatar khan under the archbishop Mikołaj Trąba initiative, to prepare for war with the Teutonic Knights. In 1410 the town mustered a cavalry company (banner) that participated in the Polish-Lithuanian victory at the battle of Grunwald. In 1566, following king Sigismund II Augustus decree, a new voivodeship was created - Brest Litovsk Voivodeship. After it became part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1569, it was renamed Brest-Litovsk.

During the period of the union of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Sweden under king Sigismund III Vasa (Polish–Swedish union), diets were held there. In 1657, and again in 1706, the town and castle were captured by the Swedes during their invasions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

On September 19, 1794 the area between Brest and Terespol was the scene of a victorious battle won by the invading Russian Imperial army under Suvorov over the Kościuszko Uprising army division under general Karol Sierakowski (known in Russian sources as the Battle of Brest). Brest was annexed by Russia when the Poland-Lithuania Commonwealth was partitioned for the third time in 1795.

The town was captured by the German army in 1915, during World War I. In March 1918, in the Brest-Litovsk fortress on the western outskirts of Brest at the confluence of the Bug River and Mukhavets Rivers, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed, ending the war between Soviet Russia and the Central Powers and transferring the city and its surrounding region to the sphere of influence of the German Empire. This treaty was subsequently annulled by the treaties which ended the war and even more so by the events and the developments in Germany and Eastern Europe. During 1918, the city was first declared part of the short-lived Belarusian Democratic Republic, then part of the Podolia Governorate of the Ukrainian People's Republic.

Following the Polish–Soviet War Brześć became part of the newly reborn Poland, with borders formally recognized by the Treaty of Riga of 1921. It was renamed Brześć nad Bugiem on March 20, 1923 (Brest on the Bug) in the Second Polish Republic, and named the capital of the Polesie Voivodeship in accordance of the pre-1795 tradition.

During the German Invasion of Poland in 1939 the city was defended by a small garrison of four infantry battalions under General Konstanty Plisowski against the XIX Panzer Corps of General Heinz Guderian. After four days of heavy fighting the Polish forces withdrew southwards on September 17 (see: Battle of Brześć Litewski). The Soviet invasion of Poland began on the same day and as a result the Soviet Red Army entered the city at the end of September 1939 in accordance with the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact's Secret Protocol, and a joint Nazi-Soviet military parade took place on September 22, 1939. While Belarusians consider it a reunification of the Belarusian nation under one constituency (BSSR at that time), Poles consider it the date when the city was lost. During the Soviet control (1939–41) the Polish population was subject to arrests, executions and mass deportations to Siberia and the Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan.

On June 22, 1941, the fortress and the city were attacked by Nazi Germany on the first day of the anti-Soviet Operation Barbarossa. Thus, in the summer of 1941, the Germans had to capture the city yet again, this time from the Soviets. The Brest Fortress held out for six days. Abandoned by the Soviet army, nearly all its defenders perished. The Germans placed Brest under the administration of the Reichskommissariat Ukraine. The remaining municipal Jewish population (about 20,000) was sequestered in the Brest ghetto established by the German authorities in December 1941, which they liquidated in October 1942.

The city was liberated by the Red Army on July 28, 1944. Pursuant to the agreements of the Yalta Conference of February 1945, Brest's status as part of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic was recognized in spite of Polish protests. The Poles of Brest, after 1,000 years of history, were encouraged to emigrate and during the 1940s and 1950s most left for Communist Poland. Today, Poles constitute about 1% of the population.

Education

Brest is home to two Universities: A.S.Pushkin State University and Brest State Technical University.

Transport

Being situated on the main railway line connecting Berlin and Moscow, and an intercontinental highway (the European route E30), Brest became a principal border crossing since World War II in Soviet times. Today it links the European Union and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

The city of Brest is served by Brest-Tsentralny railway station. Because of the break-of-gauge at Brest, where the Russian broad gauge meets the European standard gauge, all passenger trains, coming from Poland, must have their bogies replaced here, to travel on across Belarus, and the freight must be transloaded from cars of one gauge to cars of another. Some of the land in the Brest rail yards remains contaminated as a result of the transshipment of radioactive materials here since Soviet days although cleanup operations have been taking place.

The local airport, Brest Airport (code BQT), operates flights on a seasonal schedule to Kaliningrad in the Russian Federation and seasonal charter flights to Burgas and Antalya.

Sport

The sport venues appeared on the northern riverside on the hydraulic fill, comprising an indoor track-and-field center, the Brest Ice Rink, and Belarus' first outdoor baseball stadium. On the opposite riverside is a large rowing course opened in 2007, home of the National Center for Olympic Training in Rowing. It meets international requirements and can host international competitions. It has accommodation and training facilities, favorable location, 3 kilometres (2 miles) away from the border crossing along Warsaw Highway (the European route E30).

Places of interest

Belavezhskaya Pushcha National Park, 70 km (43 mi) north of Brest, is a biosphere reserve of world distinction and can be reached by car or bus. This medieval forest is home to rare European bison (wisent). There is a museum and a zoo, available for tourists in the forest, animals can be seen in enclosures all the year round. 2 hotels and some restaurants and bars are there. Excursions can also be taken by horse and cart into the interior of the forest. As a new tourist attraction, the forest features the residence of Grandfather Frost, known as Ded Moroz, the Eastern Slavic Santa Claus, that works all the year round.

Brest also hosts the first Belarusian outdoor railway museum. Brest City Park is old, but looks new after the recent reconstruction.

Kamyanets, Belarus, that lies on the way to the National park from Brest, features a landmark, the 13th-century tower of Kamyanets. The village of Kosova, where Tadeusz Kościuszko was born, is also in the Brest region and features a 19th-century palace and a Roman Catholic church.

Areas of cooperation between partner cities

On 11th of June, 2015 the Head of the City of Izhevsk and the Chairman of Brest (Belarus) Executive Council signed the Protocol of Intentions to create conditions for the establishment of twinning-partnership relations.

Main directions of cooperation:

- Establishing of equal and mutually beneficial economic and commercial relations;

- Exchange of experience in the spheres of public health care, education, culture, sports, tourism and other fields of mutual interest;

- Exchange of information in the fields of city development, local self-government as well as organization of urban economy.

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15.03.2016
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