Lysychansk [Лисичанськ; Lysyčans'k]. Map: V-19, DB Map: DBII-4. A city (2020 pop 96,200) on the Kharkiv–Debaltseve double-track mainline and on the high right bank of the Donets River in Luhansk oblast. The population of Greater Lysychansk (the Lysychansk City Council, which includes 2 small cities northwest of the city, Novodruzhesk [6,900] and Pryvillia [6,800]), in 2020 was 109,900. Together with Greater Sievierodonetsk (111,300) to the northeast and Rubizhne (56,800) to the north, it forms an elongated conurbation of 287,000.
History. On the territory of present-day Lysychansk, in the early 18th century two wintering quarters of the Kalmiius Palanka of the Zaporozhian Host were located: Lysychyi Bairak-na-Dintsi and Vyshche-na-Dintsi. When the Russian Empire established Sloviano-Serbia (in 1753) for the settlement of military refugees (Serbs, Croats, Bulgarians, Wallachians) from the Ottoman Empire, the Third Company of the Bakhmut Husar Regiment was settled in Verkhnie (formerly Vyshche, at the mouth of the Verkhnia Bila River, tributary of the Donets River, now in the southern part of Lysychansk).
In 1795, at Lysychyi Bairak, the first coal mine of the Donets Basin was established. Skilled workers were brought in from Olonetsk and Lypetsk in Russia, supplemented by recruits and exiles to mine coal. Coal was hauled by workers from Verkhnie to the Luhansk smelter and to the salt evaporating plants at Bakhmut and Sloviansk; later some of it was used to fuel ships of the Black Sea Fleet. In 1806 the first mining school in the Donets Basin (now a coal-mining museum) was established here. By 1859 three settlements were on the territory of present-day Lysychansk: Lysychanske (formerly Lysycha Balka, 1,623 persons, mining school, church, smelter, coal mine nearby), Verkhnie (1,747 persons, church), and Rubizhne (811 persons, 4 industrial shops); the first two were subordinated to the mining ministry, most of their residents employed in mining; the last was gentry-owned. Upon the emancipation of serfs in 1861 compulsory coal mining and carting was abolished.
The railway (1879–95) accelerated the growth of industries and population. At Verkhnie, a Russian-financed, Belgian-engineered (Lubimov, Solvey & Co.) soda plant went into production in 1892. More coal mines with greater capacity were opened up. At Rubizhne, the Livenhof glass factory started output in 1914. Across the river, near the Rubizhne railway station, a dye-making industrial settlement, called Rusko-Kraska (now part of the city of Rubizhne), was established in 1915. By then, the present-day territory of Lysychansk had 11,000 residents.
The Russian civil war (1918–19) impacted industries and mines. The Bolsheviks nationalized the mines and plants in 1920. The soda plant resumed production in 1921. By 1925 the economy of the area was restored, and Lysychansk was designated a town. According to the 1926 census, Lysychansk had 6,629 residents, of whom 56.3 percent were Ukrainians, 35.4 percent Russians, and 5.0 percent Jews. In 1929 the town was designated a raion center.
Industrial growth accelerated during the 1930s. The output capacities of factories increased. In 1931 the Lysychansk thermal-electric power station was built. The ‘Lysychanskvuhillia’ state trust was established in 1935 to manage 11 coal mines. Lysychansk gained city status in 1938, and by 1939 had 26,000 residents.
Growth was interrupted by Nazi German invasion. The city succumbed to two occupations (10 June 1942 to 6 February 1943, and 3 March to 2 September 1943), suffered massive destruction of infrastructure (about 2 billion rubles), human casualties (about 800), executions (27), and migration to forced labor in Germany (2,314) (see Ostarbeiter). Industrial operations were restored in 1944.
After the Second World War Lysychansk resumed growth in population (27,800 by 1953) and industries. In the process, the city had territorial-administrative changes: in 1962 the fast-growing Sievierodonetsk was spun off from Lysychansk, and in 1965 Lysychansk absorbed the adjacent slow-growing city of Verkhnie to the southeast, and the town of Proletarske to the northwest. Proletarske arose from the 18th century settlement, called Rubizhne until 1930; on the left bank opposite, however, the industrial settlement Rusko-Kraska was re-named in 1930 the city of Rubizhne (an entity separate from Lysychansk) to correspond to its Rubizhne railway station.
The Lysychansk petroleum refinery (built 12 km west-southwest of the city center at Verkhniokamianka) began operations in 1976 and expanded in 1979, making the city known for its chemical and oil refining industry. Its population grew from 35,000 in 1956 to 37,900 in 1959, 117,800 in 1970 and 119,000 in 1979, peaked at 127,000 in 1989, and then declined to 126,000 in 1991; after Ukraine’s independence it continued to decline to 123,000 in 1996 and 115,000 in 2001.
The 2001 census revealed the ethnic composition of greater Lysychansk (133,140 residents) as follows: Ukrainians, 66.7 percent, Russians, 30.5 percent, Belarusians, 1.0 percent, Tatars, 0.4 percent. Although identification with Ukrainian ethnicity increased, the use of Russian became ingrained. Russian language was declared mother tongue by 62.9 percent of all the residents, including 47.6 percent of all Ukrainians, and 78.7 percent of all Belarusians. By contrast, Ukrainian was declared mother tongue by 35.3 percent of all the residents, including 51.2 percent of the Ukrainians, 6.4 percent of the Belarusians and 3.2 percent of the Russians. The growth and decline of the city’s population corresponded to the establishment and growth of new enterprises and then economic stagnation and industrial decline of the city. The city’s population, now partly driven by demographic ageing, continued to decline: 110,000 in 2006, 107,000 in 2010, 103,500 in 2014, 101,100 in 2016, and 96,200 in 2020.
In the 1990s many enterprises were closed. By 2005 some enterprises were privatized, new small enterprises provided services and the economy began to revive. The financial crisis of 2008–9, however, hit Lysychansk with massive closures and unemployment, leading to discontent and support for the opposition led by Viktor Yanukovych, who won national elections in 2010.
In 2014 President Yanukovych faced massive protests in Kyiv (Euromaidan) for pivoting from Europe to Russia. Russian hostility to the Euromaidan Revolution found resonance in Lysychansk, particularly after Viktor Yanukovych fled to the Russian Federation, denouncing Euromaidan as a coup. Local authorities and police in Lysychansk did not prevent the pro-Russian separatists from harassing Ukrainian patriots and holding a ‘referendum’ (11 May 2014) to join the so-called ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’ (LPR). Ukrainian media were suppressed and Ukrainian presidential election was prevented. Lysychansk was part of the LPR from 22 May until 24 July, 2014, when it was liberated by the armed forces of Ukraine (notably the Donbas Battalion and the 24th Mechanized Brigade). Subsequent economic recovery had limited success; many young people continue to leave the city for Kharkiv or Kyiv.
Economy. The foundation of Lysychansk economy rests on the coal industry and chemical industry, supported by construction, food processing, and transportation sectors. The three largest enterprises are: 1) ‘Lysychanskvuhillia,’ a state coal-mining corporation (employing 4,697 in 2015 and managing 4 coal mines [output 308,000 tonnes in 2003]; there were in addition 22 coal mines operating at various times in the 19th and 20th centuries, which are now closed); and 2) the Lysychansk Petroleum Refinery (established in 1976, the newest and second largest refinery in Ukraine, using crude oil piped in from Samara in the Russian Federation, with a refining capacity of 16 million tonnes per year, to supply heavy fractions for industrial use in the Donets Basin and light fractions to the Northern Caucasia; after peak output was reached in 1991, it experienced hardships in the 1990s; in 2000, its controlling shares were sold to the Russia-controlled THK-BP, which invigorated the refinery’s operations, exporting much of its products to the Russian Federation; in 2012 the firm stopped its operations and put up the refinery for sale, but Rosneft took over and refused to sell it to Ukrainian bidders, holding the plant in reserve; refining stopped in 2014).
Contributing to construction are 1) the Lysychansk glass factory (built in 1913 as the Livenhof glass factory at old Rubizhne, began production in 1914 using local silicate sand and coal for fuel, was nationalized in 1920, re-named ‘State Glass Factory “Proletarii”’ in 1923 and the town re-named Proletarske , expanded and modernized [1932-1937]; second Lysychansk glass factory built in Verkhnie in 1930; during the Second World War their equipment was evacuated to the RSFSR and buildings detonated ; re-built, and output fully restored ; privatized in 2001 and bought out the bankrupted plant at Verkhnie, naming it ‘Mekhsteklo’; modernized  both plants, and combined them under one management and name [‘Proletarii’] ; all production transferred to Verkhnie, where glass is produced for buildings, furniture and automobiles; at old Rubizhne production was stopped on its 100th anniversary [November, 2013], damaged in 2014, and equipment pilfered for scrap ); 2) the Lysychansk machine-building plant (established in 1952 under all-Union jurisdiction for making machines to produce reinforced concrete building components, until mid-1980s employed 1,260 people, became redundant after demise of the USSR when mass-construction of apartment dwellings stopped, diversified  into three enterprises, one of which was viable and privatized as ‘Lysmash LLC’ in 2002, now makes metal tanks, reservoirs and containers, with 200 employees); 3) the Lysychansk reinforced concrete plant (established in 1960, used nearby chalk, sand, and coal for cement production, became associate-owned in 1995).
Food processing includes 1) the Lysychansk gelatin plant (established in 1968 as a glue plant, in 1979 became gelatin plant, privatized in 1995 as BISEP LLC, re-named in 2000 ‘Lisichansk Gelatin’ LLC; based on animal products, 70 percent of which came from the Russian Federation; in 2014 switched from Russian imports to local sources); 2) the Lysychansk brewery (established in 1972, privatized in 1994, fifth largest brewery in Ukraine with a capacity of 2 million dekaliters per year, uses Czech technology, diversified to include 3 own brews and 21 brews of other brands under license, also bottles mineral water and non-alcoholic beverages).
Other industries include: 1) Rare Gases Corp. (established in 1951, specializing in production of gases as well as plates, pipes and plastic objects, privatized in 1997); 2) ‘Ekotex’ LLC, maker of flammable gases and boilers; 3) synthetic rubber tire recycler ‘Regenerat’ LLC (established 1997); 4) Christmas tree decorations plant (began as a workshop in Krasnyi Oktiabr , established as a separate entity , privatized in 1998 as ‘Halimpex – glass mirror factory’, since 2005 as ‘Halimpex – fir tree decorations factory’).
Large industrial enterprises that were closed or destroyed include: 1) the Lysychansk soda plant (began production in 1892, using local coal and chalk, and salt from Bakhmut, by 1916 employed 1,554 workers, nationalized in 1920, expanded in 1930s, destroyed during the Second World War, re-built by 1950, privatized in 1994, changed ownership in 2005, acquired by the Russian Soda Company in 2007 and ceased operation, seeking subsidies, declared bankrupt in 2011, destroyed during hostilities of 2014); 2) the Lysychansk Thermal Electric Power Station (1930–2012); 3) the rubber technical components factory (1966–2019); 4) the Lysychansk synthetic textile plant (1968–2005); and 5) the Lysychansk meat packing plant (1973–2011).
Closure of traditional workplaces forced many to turn to self-employment in services of all kinds. By 2020 Lysychansk registered over 5,000 individual taxpaying entrepreneurs.
Cultureand and education. Education in Lysychansk focused on training industrial workforce. Institutions with instruction in the humanities and social sciences developed here mainly in the post-Soviet period. Before 1991, there were three technikums and one pedagogical school in Lysychansk. The tekhnikums evolved into the following present-day colleges: 1) Lysychansk Mining College (with historic roots as the first school for miners in the Russian Empire , certified for higher qualifications , re-named the Lysychansk Mining School , and then the Lysychansk Mining Tekhnikum , renewed and expanded its campus (1948-1953), broadened its curriculum to include ecology and economics [late 1980s], changed name from tekhnikum to college [c. 2017]; 2) Lysychansk Industrial-Technological College (established  as a branch of the Rubizhne Chemical Technological Tekhnikum at the Lysychansk rubber technical products factory to cater to the needs of the synthetic rubber workers, re-named  the Lysychansk Petrochemical Tekhnikum with evening courses, began offering daytime classes with a broader curriculum , obtaining its present name in 2018); and 3) Lysychansk Medical Professional College (established  as the Lysychansk Medical Tekhnikum within a hospital, obtained own building , re-named the Verkhnie Nursing School , after wartime hiatus [1941-1944] upgraded and re-named the Lysychansk Medical School , obtained new, current building , with subsequent name changes: Lysychansk State Medical School , Lysychansk Medical College , and Lysychansk Medical Professional College .
The Lysychansk Pedagogical College began as a school for teachers in 1938, developed rapidly in the 1950s, attained a campus in 1966, was upgraded and re-named in 1997 the Lysychansk Pedagogical College of the Luhansk State Pedagogical University (presently, the Luhansk National University). After Ukraine’s independence, to the 19 secondary schools in the city two preparatory schools were added: the Multiprofile Lyceum and the Multiprofile Gymnasium.
Following the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian war in the Donbas in 2014 Lysychansk became a refuge for three institutions of higher learning. The Lysychansk Pedagogical College opened up its facilities to share with two other displaced colleges of the Luhansk National University from the cities of Brianka and Kadiivka: the Brianka College (began in 1968 as the Brianka Economic-Technical Tekhnikum with a focus on consumer goods management and bookkeeping, broadening to applied arts after 1991, became part of the Luhansk National University in 1996, renamed from tekhnikum to college in 2013, evacuated to Lysychansk in 2014), and the Kadiivka Pedagogical College (began in 1967 as the Kadiivka Pedagogical School, renamed along with its city’s renaming to Stakhanov Pedagogical School , re-named from school to college and made part of the Luhansk National University , evacuated to Lysychansk , re-named to Kadiivka Pedagogical College when Stakhanov was re-named back to Kadiivka ).
The third institution, the Donbas State Technical University already had a branch campus in Lysychansk from 1999. This university, founded in 1957 as the Voroshylovsk Mining-Metallurgical Institute (now the city of Alchevsk and under LPR control, then called Voroshylovsk), was re-named several times (to conform with the renamed city Komunarsk , and then with its region as the Donbas Mining-Metallurgical Institute , upgraded to the status of a university with its current name ). It sprouted branch campuses (in Yenakiieve, Krasnyi Luch, Lysychansk, Rovenky, and Sverdlovsk , Krasnodon , Rubizhne  and Pervomaisk (Luhansk oblast) ), and after 2014 relocated its main offices to Lysychansk.
Sports facilities in Lysychansk were adequately developed but declined with the economy. There were three stadiums: 1) Shakhtar, the main city stadium (established in 1932, hosting the ‘Stakhanovets’ football club, rebuilt after the Second World War and host of ‘Shakhtar’ football club, champion of Luhansk oblast in the 1960s and 1970s, but atrophied in the mid 1990s, revived in 2000 first as the ‘Donets’ and then the ‘Lysychansk’ football club, its stadium restored, won Luhansk oblast championship in 2010; the stadium with two stands seating 1,680 + 1,320 fans sustaining damage during the hostilities of 2014), 2) Budivelnyk, the second smaller stadium (home of the Budivelnyk football club), and 3) Khimik (in the park zone of the former soda plant, now defunct along with the plant and its team). There are also three indoor sports complexes: the Sports Complex of the ‘Proletarii’ Factory (basketball, volleyball, table tennis), the Lysychansk School of Greek-Roman Wrestling, and the Sports School of Lysychansk (acrobatics, gymnastics, boxing, Judo, field sports, etc.).
The city has a central library (established in 1943) and 10 branch libraries (4 for adults, 6 for children), 3 museums (the Lysychansk city regional studies museum, the coal mining museum of the Lysychansk region, and the Volodymyr Sosiura Literary Memorial Museum), and three palaces of culture: 1) the Lysychansk City Palace of Culture (built in 1932 [in place of the old historic Shantsa church, built in 1763 and levelled in 1929], named after Lenin, re-built in 1949, its theater holds 700, hosts 300 events yearly), 2) the Lysychansk V.M. Sosiura Palace of Culture (built in 1954 as the Lysychansk Glass Factory Palace of Culture, named after the poet Volodymyr Sosiura in 1965, an important cultural venue in the southwest of the city), and 3) the Lysychansk Palace of Culture ‘Diamant’ in the north of the city. For youth there are: 1) the Lysychansk extracurricular activities center for students and youth, and 2) the Lysychansk youth center for scientific-technical creativity.
Media in print and online includes its oldest bilingual weekly, Novyi put' (established in 1918 as Golos truda, changing its name numerous times: Uhlekop, Bol'shevytskyi shturm, Lysychanskii robochii, and from 1962, Novyi put'), and the business weekly, Dilovyi tyzhden'. Its transmission tower (the original was built in 1957, its larger replacement in 1970) broadcasts 12 radio and 30 television channels. There are 12 internet news portals in Lysychansk.
Public practice of religion, suppressed by the Communist Party in the 1930s, revived after 1991. Some places of worship were restored and others built by the faithful. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate of the Sievierodonetsk Eparchy has 8 churches (of which two date back to the 19th century); the Baptists have two churches; the Jehovah’s Witnesses have two halls.
City plan. Lysychansk is an elongated city on the high right bank of the Donets River, having fused from three industrial towns, from southeast to northwest: Verkhnie, Lysychanske, and Proletarske (old Rubizhne). Its northeastern limit is defined by the Donets River and the mainline railway along its bank; the southwest limits include the developments along the western railway spur, which continues beyond Lysychansk northwestward to Novodruzhesk and Pryvillia. The city’s length is about 16 km; its width is about 6 km. The area within the city limits is 96 sq km, comprising residential (mostly single story houses, with multi-story buildings in the city center, central corridor and several apartment clusters near major factories), commercial, and industrial, with intervening green spaces (parks, ravines, cemeteries) and mine tailings. Among the ravines, one is of significance to the history of geological exploration. Located in the northern part of the city between old Rubizhne and Lysychanske, it is the Geological Nature Preserve ‘Konhresiv yar’.
The Lysychansk central corridor consists of two parallel (northwest to southeast) arterials, Sosiura Street and Victory Avenue. Both are lined with apartment buildings and between them enclose blocks with some parks and institutions. From the central point, south-eastward, they are the Lysychansk city regional studies museum, the city library, the Lysychansk Multiprofile Lyceum, the Lysychansk Mining College, the central city hospital and northwest of it, the city’s central market. To the southeast, Victory Avenue ends at the Shakhtar Stadium, whereas Sosiura Street (as highway R66) leads to the former town of Verkhnie and southeast to Luhansk. From the central point to the northwest, Victory Avenue leads past the Second World War memorial park, the Lysychansk Professional Mining-Industrial Lyceum, the inter-city bus terminal, the Lysychansk broadcasting complex, and then connects to General Potapenko Street which leads to Novodruzhesk and from there to Pryvillia or Rubizhne. Its parallel, Sosiura Street, feeds north into the May First Street (highway R66), through old Rubizhne, now part of Lysychansk, past the Palace of Culture ‘Diamant,’ the ‘Proletarii’ Glass Factory, and then across the Donets River to the cities of Sievierodonetsk and Rubizhne.
The Lysychansk city center is offset several streets northeast of the central point of the corridor, in the older part of Lysychansk (re-built in the 1930s) on a hill overlooking the Donets River. It contains the City Court House, the City Hall, the City Palace of Culture, the municipal park, and Saint Mytrofan Church (built in 1846). The other old Saint Nicholas’s Church (1895–1901) is located in old Verkhnie, south of the Bilenka River (right tributary of the Donets River, now part of Lysychansk). The industrial enterprises of Lysychansk are located along the main railway (double tracked), south to north, and its spurs.
Transportation in the city is provided by a network of trolleybuses (3 routes), buses (13 routes) and microbuses. Inter-city transportation is provided by buses (two terminals have been reduced to one) and trains (long distance trains stop at the main Lysychansk Station, while suburban trains also use four other stations within Lysychansk). The closest functioning commercial airport is in Kharkiv since the hostilities caused damage to the local Sievierodonetsk airport and destroyed the now inaccessible Luhansk international airport.
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Vyrs'kyi, D. ‘Lysychans'k’ in Entsyklopediia istoriï Ukraïny (Kyiv 2009)
‘Lisichansk: Plan goroda’ 1:22,000 in Mista Ukraïny (Kyiv 2010)
Karta Lysychans'ka, Luhans'koi oblasti (2020) href="https://kartaukrainy.com.ua/Lysychansk"
[This article was written in 2021.]