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Horlivka, Ukraine 2020

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Also referred to by its Russian name “Gorlovka”, Horlivka is a large town and a city of regional importance located in Donetsk Oblast in the eastern part of Ukraine. The town of Horlivka is named after Pyotr Nikolayevich Gorlov, a Russian mining engineer who built the town’s first coal mine in 1867. In the early 20and century, this mining colony had become one of the most important industrial centers of the country. In 2014, the town of Horlivka was captured by pro-Russian forces and became part of the Donetsk People’s Republic.

Geography of Horlivka

The town of Horlivka is located on a grooved plain in the heart of the industrial zone of the Donets basin, in the sources of the Bakhmutka river, the Luhan river, the Korsun river and the Zalizna Balka river. Horlivka covers an area of ​​422 km² and is located approximately 40 km from Donetsk, 619 km from Odessa, 646 km from the country’s capital, Kiev, and 817 km from Moscow.

Soviet monument in Zaitsevo, Horlivka, Ukraine. Editorial credit: Vittorio Nicola Rangeloni / Shutterstock.com

The town of Horlivka is administratively divided into three districts. These include the city center, Kalinin and Mykytivka. Many towns and villages are also part of the city municipality. Holmivsky, Panteleymonivka and Zaitseve are urban type settlements; Ryasne and Mykhailivka are the villages; Hladosove, Piatykhatky, Fedorivka, Ozeryanivka, Stavky, Piatykhatky and Shyroka Balka are the hamlets. Of these, the majority of populated places are part of the downtown district, while Zaitseve, Hladosove and Holmivsky are part of the Mykytivka district.

Weather

According to the Köppen climate classification, the town of Horlivka experiences a humid continental climate with hot summers and freezing, snowy winters. The hot season lasts from May to September, with July being the hottest month, with an average high temperature of 26.6°C and a low temperature of 16.1°C. The cold season lasts from November to March, with January being the coldest month, with an average low temperature of -7.2°C and high temperature of -2.2°C.

Population and economy of Horlivka

A chemical plant in Horlivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine.
A chemical plant in Horlivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine.

In the 2001 Ukrainian census, the town of Horlivka had a population of 292,000. The census also revealed that the city’s population was made up of 51.4% Ukrainians, 44.8% Russians, 1.3% Belarusians, 0.3% Tatars, 0.3% Armenians , 0.2% Moldovans and 0.2% Azeris.

Horlivka’s economy is mainly based on the extraction and processing of its mineral resources. At present, the city’s economic activity is mainly dominated by coal mining and chemical industries. Horlivka contains several anthracite mines, mineral beneficiation plants, a chemical coking plant, etc. The state-run Mykytivka Mercury Depot and Processing Plant was liquidated and restructured to protect the Donets-Donbas Canal from erosion and the coal mines from flooding. The Styrol Chemicals Trust, which was privatized in 1995, was forced to close all operations due to hostilities in 2014.

Tourist attractions in Horlivka

Epiphany Cathedral in Horlivka, Ukraine
A view of the Epiphany Cathedral in Horlivka, Ukraine.

The Museum of Miniature Books named after Valentyn Razumov

The Razumov Miniature Book Museum in Horlivka is a unique museum in Ukraine as well as in the entire Commonwealth of Independent States. The museum has about 8000 miniature and micro books in 103 languages ​​published in 57 countries of the 15and at 21st centuries. These books vary in size from a maximum of 100 mm long to minimum books comparable to the size of poppy seeds. The exhibition presents the book by A. Pushkin which is about 60 times smaller than a poppy seed. In addition to this, the collection also includes miniature texts written on human hair and horses.

The Art Museum

The Art Museum has an extensive collection of paintings by Russian and Ukrainian artists from the 18and at 20and centuries. At present, the collection of the Art Museum includes three thousand paintings, decorative arts and several drawings and sculptures. The art museum houses the largest collection of paintings by Russian painter Nicholas Roerich in Ukraine.

Monument to Gorlov

In the center of the city there is a monument dedicated to the founder of the city – Pyotr Nikolayevich Gorlov, a Russian mining engineer. Gorlov was one of the pioneers of the Donbass coal industry and built the city’s first coal mine in 1867. He was also actively involved in the construction of the Kursk-Kharkov-Azov railway.

St. Nicholas Cathedral

The Cathedral of Saint Nicholas – the Archbishop of Myra, was built in Horlivka in 1905. The church, however, was closed in 1929. The building was then used as Donenergo’s laboratory until the German occupation in 1941 During World War II, church services resumed and the domes of the church were rebuilt. The reconstruction of the church was completed in 1989.

Gorky Park

Named after Mr. Gorky, the Park of Culture and Rest has been operating as a city park since 1932. The park covers a total area of ​​61.3 hectares and contains several rare and valuable trees. The park contains several rides operated for children and adults, and many cultural events are also held in the park. Deep within the park is a municipal stadium and a sports complex.

Brief history of Horlivka

An old tram and a garbage dump in the background in Horlivka, Ukraine
An old tram passes through the industrial area with a landfill in the background in Horlivka, Ukraine.

At the beginning of the 18and century, the first Cossack settlements were built in the region. The city was founded as “Gosudarev Posad” in 1779. Due to the construction of the Kursk-Kharkov-Azov railway in 1867, a village and a house for railway workers were built. The town was renamed Gorlovka or Horlivka in 1869 in honor of Pyotr Nikolayevich Gorlov, a Russian mining engineer. Gorlov explored several coal deposits in the Donets basin, and the coal industry developed quite rapidly. The coal mine “Korsun Kop #1” was built in 1871, eventually becoming one of the largest coal mines in the Donbass region. The city was the scene of an armed uprising during the Russian Revolution. In April 1918, Horlivka came under the control of the Ukrainian People’s Republic. During the 1930s, the city grew significantly under the Soviet Union and later became one of the main mining centers of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. From 1941 to 1943, the city was under German occupation. Several buildings were burned down and mass shootings took place by retreating Nazis during World War II. At present, many mines in the city have been closed, and the population of the city also dropped by more than 10% during the 1990s.

In April 2014, pro-Russian separatists captured many towns in Donetsk Oblast. On April 14, a police station in Horlivka was seized by a group of separatists. The town saw heavy fighting in the months that followed. The Ukrainian army took over parts of Horlivka on July 21, 2014. However, separatist forces continue to control Horlivka to this day, while the Ukrainian army only controls a few suburbs of Horlivka.

Current situation in Horlivka

In the early morning of February 24, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine. The Russian military launched heavy attacks on Ukraine by land, air and sea, which was considered the largest military assault by one European state against another since World War II. Moreover, the Russian President recognized the independence of the two regions controlled by the separatists of Donetsk and the Luhansk People’s Republic and ordered his troops to move to these regions. Since then, there have been reports of increased shelling of Ukrainian soldiers by Russian-backed separatists on the outskirts of the town of Horlivka in eastern Ukraine. According to reports, three children and two teachers were killed when a missile hit a school in Horlivka on February 25, 2022.