Chernihiv, the capital of the northernmost
region of Ukraine, is situated on the right (western) bank of the
Desna River 87 miles (140 km) north of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv
along the international highway Odessa-St.Petersburg. It is also located
50 miles (80 km) east as the crow flies from the Lenin Chornobyl Nuclear
Power Plant. Chernihiv is slightly more than 30 square miles (more
than 78 sq km) with a poplation of 310,000.
Most of Chernihvites (about 75%) are Ukrainians, but there also many
Russians, Jews, Belorussians and people of other nationalities. Traditionally,
Chernihiv is an orthodox city, but today many faiths are practiced
here. A small part of its population are the adherents of Protestantism
and Catholicism, and a few belong to the other religions as Judaists,
Greek Catholics, Krishnas, Buddhists.
Like in many countries, which are evolving from totalitarian to democratic
forms of government, the political landscape in Ukraine is a quagmire
of political parties and movements. Hence, it is very difficult to
effectively define the political liking of Chernihivites. One can
say with certainty only that a considerable part of them support Communists.
The Communist party draws many of it's adherents from the older generation.
This can be attributed by the historical fact that much of the city's
population is made up of retirees. As far back as in the Tsarist times,
retired military officers made Chernihiv their home.
Many elderly people believe that with the return to the plan economy,
making the Russian an official state language and the restoration
of the disintegrated USSR, their lives will drastically improve. As
they could during the past, they will be able to buy food, if not
of high quality, but affordable. At the same time it must be noted
that in Chernihiv, there are many political organizations with center
and right wing leanings.
The climate of Chernihiv is temperate continental, the average temperatures
of January and July, the coldest and the warmest months of the year
are accordingly: 19,2° F (-7,1°C) and 66,7° F (+18,7°Ñ). In April,
the Desna overflows its banks and often there are floods, which cause
troubles to the Chernihivites, like, for example, the great flood
of 1970, which caused to the city a great financial damage.
The main branches of industry of today's Chernihiv are light, chemical
and alimentary, in addition to motor-car assembling. After the downfall
of the plan system of economy many enterprises of the city have not
managed to make a successful transformation to the market economy.
The largest example of this suffering is the Chernihiv's air terminal,
which has been practically idled for several years. In addition, the
Chernihiv food processing industry continues to grow, both with output
and with the number of facilities. A considerable part of Chernihivites
make their living by petty trade.
Of the educational establishments it is worth of mention the Chernihiv
Taras Shevchenko Pedagogical University, the Chernihiv Technological
University, the Chernihiv Institute of Economy and Management, the
Chernihiv Levko Revutskyy Musical College. The science is represented
first of all by the Institute of Agricultural Microbiology of the
Ukrainian Academy of Agricultural Sciences, by the Public Joint-Stock
Company "Khimtekstil'mash" (projecting of machines for production
of synthetic fiber) and the Chernihiv Branch of the Ukrainian State
Institute for Geological Survey. In the city there are three theaters,
a Philharmonic Society and several stadiums.
Chernihiv is rich in ancient and historical sights. Here is a fact
that speaks for itself: the city has preserved one quarter of all
architectural monuments of Ukraine of the pre-Mongol period. In Chernihiv's
museums there are rich collections of Ukrainian antiquities and folk
painting. An advantageous geographical location of the city, favourable
climatic and natural conditions create great possibilities for development
ON THE CITY'S NAME
The origin of the city's name - Chernihiv - is not known for sure.
Some people consider that the name came from forests which once surrounded
the city and were so dense that from far away seemed to be black.
(Chornyy in English means black.) But it is hard to
believe in this version since at this particular time, the whole Europe
was covered by dense forests, which gradually disappeared as the result
of activity of man. There is also an opinion, that the city derived
its name from the ancient people Chorni klobuki, that is those
who wore black hats.
The most romantic version about the origin of the city's name is connected
with the legend about Prince Chornyy, who ruled here in the
10th century, and his daughter Chorna (or Tsorna) by
name. As the legend has it, the Princess distinguished herself with
unusual beauty, she liked hunting, horse-riding and was a good archer.
The rumours about the girl's beauty reached the ears of the Khosar's
Kagan, whome Prince Chornyy's payed tribute. The Kagan sent
to Chernihiv his match-makers with rich presents. But the girl refused
to marry her people's enemy.
The Kagan tried to capture the city and to take the girl away by force
but the townspeople with fortitude beat off one attack after another
and there was nothing left to the Khosars as to lay siege. Since at
that time Prince Chornyy was at odds with the Grand Duke Oleg
of Kyiv, and he couldn't expect any help, he decided to break the
siege while there was still enough man power, food and water.
As soon as the Prince with his druzhyna and armed commoners left the
city walls, a gang of traitors rushed into the girl's room on the
upper floor of the mansion, which, as the story goes, was as high
as old oak-trees, which grew around it. The Princess managed to hit
some of the enemies from her bow, but when she ran out of arrows,
the girl threw herself out of the window.
No matter how beautiful this legend is, it is not in any way connected
with the city's name, since the first written record of Chernihiv
refers to 860, much earlier that the traditional legend. Most historians
have come to the conclusion that the city got its name from the name
of a chief of a local tribe or the first settler Cherniga or
Chernega. This theory is strengthened due to the fact that
this name is founded with the kindred Slavonic people Poles and Czechs.
For an indirect corroboration of this version serves the origin of
the Ukrainian capital: Kyiv got its name after the name of its Prince
G L O S S A R Y
druzhyna - prince's armed force, men-at-arms
Kagan - prince of Khazar(s)
Khazar(s) - normadic tribes, south-east neighbours of the Eastern Slavs