Burmister (from German Bürgermeister). Chairman of a city or town council, assistant to the viit (mayor) in cities with self-governing charters based on Magdeburg law. First introduced to Ukraine in the 14th century, the term was used for various municipal officers until the 19th century. In accordance with Magdeburg law the general assembly of townsmen usually elected two burmistry to the magistrat (municipal administration). They alternated in performing their functions, which included presiding over the council and taking care of certain administrative and financial matters. Cities without full self-government usually had one burmister. By the 19th century on Ukrainian territories in Austria-Hungary the burmister or burgomister was the equivalent of mayor. In Ukraine under Russia the term was used for municipal officers who managed the city administration and collected state taxes; occasionally, for managers of estates; and, after 1861, for elected officers of the rural district (volost) administration.
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]