Dnipro: the heart of Ukraine beats here
Today we will walk through the city of Dnipro, aka Dnipro, aka Dnipropetrovsk, aka Sicheslav, aka Katerinoslav.
As the Russian Empire in the 18th century encroached on the territory of modern Ukraine, there was a need for an administrative center from which it would be convenient to manage the region. It couldn’t be rebellious Zaporizhzhia, Kyiv, which demands independence, was not suitable for the role of the provincial capital. In place of the future Odessathe Turkish fortress of Hajibey still stood. Then Empress Catherine II decided to establish a city at the mouth of the Dnieper Samara tributary, on the site of several Cossack villages. The city became Katerynoslav under Alexander I, and Dnipropetrovsk under the USSR.
The name Dnipropetrovsk is formed from the river Dnipro and the surname Petrovsky. Hryhoriy Ivanovich Petrovskyi was the creator of the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission (1918), the Cheka – this is where the word “chekist” comes from. The Cheka was a punitive body of the Bolsheviks: its representatives had the right to shoot without trial anyone accused of “counter-revolution”. All this was done within the framework of the policy of the Red Terror – the directive approving this policy was also signed by Petrovsky. In total, during the five years of operation, the Cheka killed tens of thousands of people. Her activities reached such a scale that the Bolsheviks themselves were frightened. The commission was reformed and renamed the NKVD, then the KGB of the USSR, and then the FSB of the Russian Federation.
But let’s go back to Petrovsky. After the Cheka was reformed, he was one of the Red leaders in Ukraine. It was he who signed the treaty on Ukraine’s accession to the Soviet Union on behalf of the Ukrainian SSR. When creating the constitution, the USSR supported the consolidation of a rigid vertical of power, when all important decisions were made in Moscow. And in 1932, he personally managed bread procurement in the Donetsk region. It was under his leadership that hundreds of thousands of peasants were condemned to death by hunger, having taken away their grain. Petrovsky miraculously escaped Stalinist repressions, and in the last years of his life he was famous as a living legend and a hero of the revolution. Yes, for the USSR, the person who ruined hundreds of thousands of lives for the sake of an idea was truly a legend. But, fortunately, there is no place for such heroes in modern Ukraine. In 2016, the city was renamed Dnipro. But since the name did not last, new changes are quite possible.
During the times of the USSR, the city named after Petrovsky was a closed center of the defense industry. A region rich in natural raw materials, electricity from DniproHES and convenient transport connections — what more do factories need? The famous Pivdenmash — the largest rocket and space plant — was built in the city. The second president of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, became the prime minister from the position of director of Pivdenmash. Now, after the severing of economic ties with Russia, the Pivdenmash plant is going through bad times, it is looking for new partners and opportunities for restructuring.
And yet, despite the decline in the defense industry, the city is doing well. It even resumed the construction of the subway, which long ago became a proverb in languages.
Under the USSR, cities with a population of over a million people could apply for a subway. Dnipropetrovsk became a millionaire at the end of the 1970s, when a decision was made to build a branch of the metro in the city. In 1981, construction began, the first stations were planned and equipment was purchased. The grand opening was planned for 1991. But the sudden collapse of the USSR prevented this, and the metro in Dnipropetrovsk was opened only in 1995. Since that time, the most famous politicians of Ukraine – Yulia Tymoshenko, Viktor Yanukovych … promised to allocate money for the development of the metro, and the city authorities identified a contractor – a Turkish construction company. But the work started only in June 2018. Completion of the construction of three new stations is planned in 2021.
And while the subway is being built, the city is being organized. Old buildings are demolished, often neglecting their historical value. Skyscrapers and shopping centers appear in the place of demolished historical monuments. And the peculiarity of the city, its business card, is the newly renovated embankment. The decision of the city authorities to ban trade on the embankment was controversial, but the result is obvious: the embankment is clean and spacious, and nothing prevents you from walking along it and enjoying the view of the modern business center of the country.