Pskov Oblast (Russian: Пско́вская о́бласть, Pskóvskaya óblast') is a federal subject of Russia (an oblast), located in the west of the country. Its administrative center is the city of Pskov. As of the 2010 Census, its population was 673,423.
Pskov Oblast is the westernmost federal subject of contiguous Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast, while located further to the west, is an exclave). It borders with Leningrad Oblast in the north, Novgorod Oblast in the east, Tver and Smolensk Oblasts in the southeast, Vitebsk Oblast of Belarus in the south, and with the counties of Latvia (Alūksne Municipality, Baltinava Municipality, Cibla Municipality, Kārsava Municipality, Ludza Municipality, Viļaka Municipality, and Zilupe Municipality) and Estonia (Võru County) in the west. In the northwest, Pskov Oblast is limited by Lake Peipus, which makes up most of the state border with Estonia.
The oblast is located in the Baltic Sea drainage basin, mostly in the basin of the Narva River. The biggest river of this basin is the Velikaya, which flows across the whole oblast from south to north and drains into Lake Peipus. The drainage basin of the Velikaya covers the whole territory of the oblast, with the exception of relatively minor areas in its southern, eastern, and northeastern parts. The rivers in the southeast drain into the Lovat, which has its source in Belarus and crosses Pskov Oblast from south to north, continuing to Novgorod Oblast. The Lovat is a major tributary of Lake Ilmen and is itself in the Neva River's basin. Another tributary of Lake Ilmen is the Shelon River, which flows in the eastern part of the oblast. Finally, minor areas in the south lie in the basin of the Western Dvina. A short stretch of the Western Dvina makes up the border between Pskov and Tver Oblasts.
The north of the oblast is flat and swampy, whereas the central and the southern parts are formed by glacial landscapes. There are many lakes, especially in the south. The biggest one, after Lake Peipus, is Lake Zhizhitskoye, with an area of 51.3 square kilometers (19.8 sq mi). It is located in the southeast of the oblast, in the basin of the Western Dvina.
Wood is one of the most important natural resources in the oblast, with forests taking up to one-third of the territory. Total wood reserves as of January 1, 2005 were estimated to be at 331,200,000 cubic meters (1.170×1010 cu ft).
The final period of the Livonian War. The solid line shows the border between Russia (east) and Poland (west) by 1600
Pskov was first mentioned in chronicles under the year 903, and several versions of the Trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks ran through its current territory, along the Velikaya and the Lovat rivers. Until the 1230s, Pskov was a principality; subsequently it was subordinated to Novgorod and became a republic, one of the two feudal republics in Rus. In the Pskov Republic, the highest authority was the assembly of citizens. In 1348, the Treaty of Bolotovo was concluded, recognizing the independence of Pskov. However, Pskov quickly ran into dependence from the Grand Duchy of Moscow, the emerging regional superpower, and after 1399 Moscow appointed viceroys to Pskov. Formal independence ended in 1510, when Pskov was occupied by the troops of Vasili III of Russia, the Grand Prince of Moscow. Throughout history, Pskov lands were always situated in the west of Russian Lands, and its rulers were almost constantly at war. In 1242 the Battle of the Ice on Lake Peipus stopped the expansion of the Teutonic Knights to the east. During the Livonian War, in 1581, the Polish troops laid siege to Pskov. The areas which now constitute the southern part of the oblast changed hands many times, but after the Livonian War, they were made part of Poland and remained as such until the First Partition of Poland in 1772. The southeastern part of the oblast then became part of the Principality of Toropets before it was attached to Moscow in the 15th century.
December 29 [O.S. December 18], 1708 Tsar Peter the Great issued an edict which established seven governorates. The north of the present area of Pskov Oblast, which at the time belonged to Russia, was a part of Ingermanland Governorate, which was renamed Saint Petersburg Governorate in 1710. In 1727, a separate Novgorod Governorate was established, and the area was transferred there. It was subdivided into five provinces, and the current area of Pskov Oblast was split between two of them - Pskov and Velikiye Luki Provinces. In 1772, in order to accommodate areas acquired by Russia as a result of the First Partition of Poland, Pskov Governorate with the seat in Opochka was created. It quickly proved to be unmanageable and was split in 1776 into Pskov and Polotsk Governorates. Pskov was made the administrative center of Pskov Governorate. In 1777, Pskov Governorate was transformed into Pskov Viceroyalty. In 1796, the viceroyalty was abolished, and the emperor Paul I issued a decree restoring Pskov Governorate. The southern part of Pskov Oblast wento through a number of administrative reforms, before ending up in Vitebsk Governorate. After 1919, Vitebsk Governorate was a part of Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. In 1924, Vitebsk Governorate was abolished, and its northeastern part was transferred to Pskov Governorate. Besides, in 1920 the westernmost areas of the Pskov Governorate including Pechory, Izborsk, Vyshgorodok and Pytalovo that since 1918 were occupied by the North-Western Army, Latvian and Estonian republican units, were ceded from Russian SFR to Latvia and Estonia respectively under the Tartu Peace Treaty and Riga Peace Treaty.
Chapel of St. Anthony and Theodosius, Pechory, Pskov Oblast
On August 1, 1927 the governorates were abolished, and the area became a part of newly established Leningrad Oblast. The southern part was soon split off and went through a number of administrative reforms, being at different times located in Western Oblast, Smolensk Oblast, and Kalinin Oblast. Between autumn of 1941 and spring of 1944, during World War II, the current area of Pskov Oblast was occupied by German troops. In particular, the partisan movement was pretty active in the area. After the liberation, on August 22, 1944, Velikiye Luki Oblast was established, with the center in Velikiye Luki, and on the following day, August 23, 1944, Pskov Oblast was established. In 1945 areas ceded by Russian SFR to Latvia and Estonia in 1920 were transferred back from Estonian and Latvian Soviet Socialist Republics to Pskov Oblast, including the town of Pechory (with minor exceptions). Together, Pskov and Velikiye Luki Oblasts now contained all the areas which currently constitute Pskov Oblast. On October 2, 1957, Velikiye Luki Oblast was abolished and split between Pskov and Kalinin Oblasts. After Kholmsky and Ploskoshsky Districts were transferred to Novgorod and Kalinin Oblasts, respectively, in July 1958, the borders of Pskov Oblast did not change.
Seat of the Pskov Administration and parliament, House of the Soviets
During the Soviet period, the high authority in the oblast was shared between three persons: the first secretary of the Pskov CPSU Committee (who in reality had the most authority), the chairman of the oblast Soviet (legislative power), and the Chairman of the oblast Executive Committee (executive power). Since 1991, CPSU lost all the power, and the head of the Oblast administration, and eventually the governor was appointed/elected alongside the elected regional parliament.
The Charter of Pskov Oblast is the fundamental law of the region. The Legislative Assembly of Pskov Oblast is the province's standing legislative (representative) body. The Legislative Assembly exercises its authority by passing laws, resolutions, and other legal acts and by supervising the implementation and observance of the laws and other legal acts passed by it. The highest executive body is the Oblast Government, which includes territorial executive bodies such as district administrations, committees, and commissions that facilitate development and run the day to day matters of the province. The Oblast administration supports the activities of the Governor who is the highest official and acts as guarantor of the observance of the oblast Charter in accordance with the Constitution of Russia.
First secretaries of the Pskov Oblast CPSU Committee
In the period when they were the most important authority in the oblast (1944 to 1991), the following first secretaries were appointed,
- 1944-1949 Leonty Antyufeyev
- 1949-1951 Gennady Shubin
- 1951-1961 Mikhail Kanunnikov
- 1961-1971 Ivan Gustov
- 1971-1987 Alexey Rybakov
- 1987-1988 Yury Pogorelov
- 1988-1990 Alexey Ilyin
- 1990-1991 Vladimir Nikitin
Since 1991, governors were sometimes appointed, and sometimes elected,
- 1991-1992 Anatoly Dobryakov, head of the administration, appointed
- 1992-1996 Vladislav Tumanov, head of the administration, appointed
- 1996-2005 Yevgeny Mikhaylov, governor, elected
- 2005-2009 Mikhail Kuznetsov, governor, elected
- 2009-2017 Andrey Turchak, governor, appointed, elected
- 2017-present Mikhail Vedernikov (acting)
The oblast is administratively divided into two cities and towns under the oblast jurisdiction (Pskov and Velikiye Luki) and twenty-four districts. Another twelve towns have the status of the towns of district significance.
The areas close to Estonian-Russian and Latvian-Russian border are included into the border security zone, intended to protect the borders of Russian Federation from unwanted activity. None of towns or urban-type settlements is currently included in the border security zone. In order to visit the zone, a permit issued by the local FSB department is required.
Population: 673,423 (2010 Census); 760,810 (2002 Census); 846,449 (1989 Census).
- Vital statistics for 2012
- The Pskov region has the worst ratio of births to deaths in Russia.
- Births: 7 323 (11.0 per 1000)
- Deaths: 12 949 (19.5 per 1000) 
- Total fertility rate:
2009 - 1.52 | 2010 - 1.51 | 2011 - 1.54 | 2012 - 1.66 | 2013 - 1.68 | 2014 - 1.70 | 2015 - 1.74 | 2016 - 1.79(e)
According to the 2010 Census, the ethnic composition was:
- 95% Russian
- 1.3% Ukrainian
- 1% Belarusians
- 0.5% Romani
- 0.4% Armenian
- 0.1% Estonian
- 1.7% others
- 24,630 people were registered from administrative databases, and could not declare an ethnicity. It is estimated that the proportion of ethnicities in this group is the same as that of the declared group.
A notable ethnic minority are the Setos, an ethnic group related to Estonians. Setos are traditionally Orthodox Christians and live in Pechorsky District in the west of the oblast.
According to a 2012 survey 49.6% of the population of Pskov Oblast adheres to the Russian Orthodox Church, 5% are unaffiliated generic Christians, 2% are Orthodox Christian believers who don't belong to any church or are members of other (non-Russian) Orthodox Churches, 1% of the population adheres to the Slavic native faith movement (Rodnovery), 1% to the Old Believers' church. In addition, 17% of the population declares to be "spiritual but not religious", 19% is atheist, and 6.4% follows other religions or did not give an answer to the question.
Enterprises of electrotechnical industry and food industry in 2009 jointly produced over 50% of the industrial output of the oblast. The two cities with the biggest concentration of industrial enterprises are Pskov and Velikiye Luki.
The main specializations of agriculture in Pskov Oblast are cattle breeding with milk and meat production.
The railway connecting Bologoye and Pskov via Dno and Porkhov crosses the district from east to west. It continues to Pechory and across the border to Tartu, though there is no railway passenger connections between Pskov and Estonia. In Pskov, it crosses another railroad connecting Saint Petersburg with Riga via Plyussa, Ostrov, and Pytalovo. Gdov is connected by railroad with Veymarn via Slantsy. This is a part of the railway which continued south to Pskov, however, the stretch between Gdov and Pskov was destroyed during World War II and never rebuilt. In the south, the railway connecting Moscow with Riga crosses the oblast from east to west, passing through Velikiye Luki, Novosokolniki, and Sebezh. Another railway, running in the east of the oblast in the north–south direction, connects Saint Petersburg via Dno and Novosokolniki with Nevel. In Nevel it splits into two railway lines, both running southeast into Belarus: One line to Vitebsk, and another one to Grodno via Polotsk and Molodechno. Finally, Velikiye Luki is a terminus of the railway line running northeast to Bologoye.
The road network in the oblast is relatively dense, excluding depopulated swampy areas in the east of the oblast. The two most significant highways are the M9 highway which connects Moscow and Riga and runs in the east–west direction, and the M20 highway which connects Saint Petersburg and Kiev, running from north to south. The two highways cross near Pustoshka. A number of road stretches are toll roads. Ostrov is the northern terminus of the European route E262, which proceeds to Kaunas via Rēzekne and Daugavpils.
The oblast is served by airports in Pskov and Velikiye Luki. Pskov Airport (Kresty) serves regular flights to Moscow Domodedovo and Saint Petersburg Pulkovo. These flights are operated by Pskovavia, a local airline.
The very lowest part of the Velikaya is navigable.
Culture and recreation
The Pozdnoyev House, Pskov
Pskov, similarly to Novgorod, avoided the Mongol invasion of Rus', and therefore it conserved the best examples of Old Russian architecture. The Christ's Transfiguration Cathedral of Mirozhsky Monastery in Pskov, built in the 12th century, contains the 12th-century frescoes, which are extremely rare in Russia. The only other pre-Mongol building in Pskov Oblast is the katholikon of the Ivanovsky Monastery in Pskov, which was constructed in the 1140s and is allegedly the oldest surviving building in the oblast. In Pskov and its immediate surroundings there are several dozens churches built between the end of the 14th and the 17th century. They all have a very simple architecture, painted white from the outside, and most of them have a belfry constructed just on the main church building. Another architecture feature of Pskov is a presence of a large number of the 17th century living houses (palatas). Pre-18th century civil architecture is extremely rare in Russia, only a handful of building survived, and Pskov contains several dozens of the best samples of this genre.
Pskov for a considerably part of its history was located at the west border of Russia, and therefore the fortification architecture was particularly useful in the area. The best surviving examples are the Pskov Kremlin, the walls and the towers surrounding the historic center of Pskov, the fortress in Izborsk, the Pskov-Caves Monastery in the town of Pechory, and the fortress in Porkhov.
Pskov Governorate happened to be the location of the family estate of Alexander Pushkin, a Russian poet credited with the creation of contemporary Russian language. He spent considerable time at the estate, and once was banished there for two years. In Soviet times, the estate and surrounding areas were transformed into the Mikhaylovskoye Museum Reserve and became a primary tourist attraction. The estate which belonged to the family of the composer Modest Mussorgsky in Kunyinsky District is also preserved as a museum.
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- ^ Госстандарт Российской Федерации. №ОК 024-95 27 декабря 1995 г. «Общероссийский классификатор экономических регионов. 2. Экономические районы», в ред. Изменения №5/2001 ОКЭР. (Gosstandart of the Russian Federation. #OK 024-95 December 27, 1995 Russian Classification of Economic Regions. 2. Economic Regions, as amended by the Amendment #5/2001 OKER. ).
- ^ Article 4 of the Charter of Pskov Oblast states that the oblast may have an anthem, providing that an oblast law is adopted to that effect. As of 2014, no such law is in place.
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- Псковское областное Собрание депутатов. №1-У 12 апреля 2001 г. «Устав Псковской области», в ред. Закона №1609-ОЗ от 15 декабря 2015 г. «О поправках в статьи 44 и 49 Устава Псковской области». Вступил в силу 18 апреля 2001 г. Опубликован: "Губернские ведомости", №11, 18 апреля 2001 г. (Pskov Oblast Council of Deputies. #1-U April 12, 2001 Charter of Pskov Oblast, as amended by the Law #1609-OZ of December 15, 2015 On Amending Articles 44 and 49 of the Charter of Pskov Oblast. Effective as of April 18, 2001.).
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