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Belarusian: Мазыр
Russian: Мозырь
Mazyr Montage (2017).jpg
Coat of arms of Mazyr
Mazyr is located in Belarus
Coordinates: 52°03′N 29°15′E / 52.050°N 29.250°E / 52.050; 29.250
Country Belarus
RegionGomel Region
 • Total44.1381 km2 (17.0418 sq mi)
160 m (520 ft)
 • Total112,348
 • Density2,500/km2 (6,600/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+3 (FET)
Postal code
Area code(s)+375 2363
License plate3

Mazyr (Belarusian: Мазыр, pronounced [maˈzɨr]; Russian: Мозырь Mozyr [ˈmozɨrʲ], Polish: Mozyrz , Yiddish: מאזיר) is a city in Gomel Region of Belarus on the Pripyat River about 210 kilometres (130 miles) east of Pinsk and 100 kilometres (62 miles) northwest of Chernobyl; it is located at approximately 52°03′N 29°15′E / 52.050°N 29.250°E / 52.050; 29.250. The population is 111,770 (2004 estimate). The total urban area including Kalinkavichy across the river has a population of 150,000. Mazyr is known as a center of oil refining, salt extraction, machine building, and food processing in Belarus. It is home to one of the largest oil refineries in Belarus, pumping out 18 million metric tons per year and is served by a tram line. The Druzhba pipeline carries crude oil from Russia splitting in two at Mazyr. One pipeline branch is directed into Poland and the other one to Ukraine.


The right bank of the Pripyat River, where the city is located, is elevated above the left bank at substantial height (up to 80 metres (262 feet)). The overfall of surface of that scale is assumed to be a consequence of a glaciation: the Pripyat River is running right along the edge where an ancient glacier was located. Since both banks of the river are sandy, the right bank is cut through by a number of great ravines (more than 2.5 km (1.6 mi) length, up to 200 metres (656 feet) width). The city is also located on the ravines, so its streets look much like streets of a mountain town. One of the ravines is proclaimed a reserve. Some of the nearby ravines are currently also equipped with ski lifts and transformed into skiing winter resorts.

St. Michael's church and a former monastery of Cistercians in Mazyr

Mazyr once had a sizable Jewish population. During World War II, many Jews were murdered by the Nazis during mass executions.[2] There are several memorials devoted to this in the modern city. As with other Soviet cities, during approximately the last 15 years of the Communist control, a large proportion of the remaining Jews have relocated abroad, mostly to Israel and United States.

In 1986, the city suffered from heavy radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl accident.


Mazyr in 1918

Mazyr is one of the oldest cities of historical Ruthenia. It was first mentioned in the mid 12th century as a part of Duchy of Vladimir, and then the Duchy of Kiev. In the 13th century it was conquered by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Initially a small settlement, in the 15th century it was donated to Duke Michael Glinski, who converted it into a town. The city received town rights (Magdeburg Law) first from king Stefan Batory in 1577 and then from king Sigismund III of Poland in 1609. Despite having been destroyed by Russian forces twice (in 1525 and 1654), the city continued to grow and following the Union of Lublin it became a major administrative and trade centre, as well as a seat of a powiat ("county" office and court). In 1648 there was a conflict during the Khmelnytsky Uprising. Between 1723 and 1726 the Jesuits created a school in Mazyr under auspice of the Academy of Vilna. Following the suppression of the order in 1773 the school was secularised and continued to exist as a gymnasium. Among its most famous graduates are Edward Piekarski (linguist) and Władysław Mazurkiewicz (physician).

In 1793, following the Partitions of Poland, the town was annexed by Russia and its town rights were again confirmed in 1795. In the 19th century the town grew rapidly, mostly because of the Russian Pale of Settlement policy that allowed Jews to settle only in the lands once held by the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Because of that Mazyr grew to over 10 thousand inhabitants by the end of the century, most of them Jewish.

Mazyr bridge.

During the Polish-Soviet War of 1920 the town was captured by the Polish Army in the so-called Mazyr Operation. Polish 9th Infantry Division captured the city in a swift and daring manoeuvre that earned its commanding officer, Col. Władysław Sikorski (later Prime Minister of Poland) a promotion to general. In the course of the war the town was briefly recaptured by the Bolshevists, but in the aftermath of the battle of Warsaw it was recaptured by the Polish forces of Gen. Stanisław Bułak-Bałachowicz, who proclaimed a short-lived Belarusian People's Republic on November 12, 1920. However, in the Riga Peace Treaty it was assigned to Soviet Russia and became part of the Byelorussian SSR. From 1938 the town was a seat of the Polesie region; however in 1954 it lost that status and was administratively attached to the region of Gomel.

Jewish community[edit]

Jews were first mentioned in chronicles in the second half of the 17th century. It is known that there were three synagogues in the city as of 1856. R. Kugel, a prominent Jewish community figure, had been the chief Rabbi of Mazyr since 1861. He was also the head of the local Jewish literacy school.

During this period Jews were mostly engaged in craftsmanship and trading. Part of Mazyr's industry, the match factory and the wood sawing factory were owned by Jews.

There were eight active synagogues, a yeshiva, Jewish school and Talmud-Torah school in the wake of the 20th century. All of the facilities had been closed down by 1939.

Thousands of Jews were executed by the Nazis in the local ghetto during World War II. After the mass execution, almost no Jews remained in the city, whereas before the war 30% of the population within the city was Jewish. On August 31, 1941, hundreds of Jews gathered inside a house at Malo-Pushkin street. They poured kerosene on the building walls and set it alight, while the people huddled inside. The mass suicide was an attempt to escape execution by the Nazis. The incident is known as the "Belarusian Masada".

After the war some Jews returned to Mazyr. Although they refused to take back the partially-destroyed synagogue building, an official Jewish community was registered in 1946. A few years later, authorities denied the organization's right to exist. The community organization was re-established officially in 1989, when a revival began in the city. A synagogue and a Jewish culture club were opened.

Places of interest[edit]

• A monument for Jews at the place of a mass grave
• A monument composed of black polished granite, commemorating the aforementioned "Belarusian Masada"
• A monument placed at the point of mass executions
• The incredibly beautiful Mazyr Castle, dating back to 16th century
• The Pkhov river port, the biggest port of Belarus


Year Jewish population Total Population % Jewish Notes
1897 5631 8076 69.73% Russian Census of 1897
1927 ~6000 14300 42% Soviet Census of 1927[3][failed verification]
1939 6307 17500 36.04% Jewish population just before World War II[4]
1970 4300 48000 8.96% Soviet Census of 1970. Population fell due to Holocaust and migration to bigger cities as Minsk, Moscow and Leningrad after World War II [5][failed verification]
1979 3600 105882 3.40% Soviet Census of 1979. Jewish population fell due to emigration of Soviet Jews to Israel and United States[5]
1989 3200 128000 2.50% Soviet Census of 1989. Jewish population fell due to emigration of Soviet Jews to Israel and United States[5]
1999 565 114000 0.50% Jewish population fell due to emigration of Soviet Jews to Israel and United States[5]
2004 <500 111500 0.45% [citation needed]


Mazyr has a tram service, which commenced operation on 1st August, 1988. The line starts at the tram depot and terminates at the oil refinery with four turning loops located along the route. It is designed to server the Mozyr Oil Refinery (MNPZ) and is owned by the refinery. Services on the tram line are coordinated with shifts at the refinery; as such service throughout the day is every 25-95 minutes while during the peaks it is 3-12 minutes, though those services pass suburban stops without stopping. Most passengers are workers though it also serves residents living near the line. The total length of the line is 20.3 km with a full trip time of 40 minutes. The line has a high speed layout, with radius of minimum 400 meters. There were plans for a second tram line, but has not come to fruition.[6] The rolling stock is mainly 71-605 and its derivative vehicles.[7]

Educational Center[edit]

International Festival 'Hey, Rocknem!'[edit]

Mazyr is a capital of a modern rock music of Gomel region, where since 2003 International Festival of Music is organized. There are Oil Refining Plant, brewery 'Речицкое пиво', multimedia company 'Fotolux' and Minsk newspaper 'Znamya Yunosti' (Russian:Знамя Юности)among sponsors of the Festival. Up to forty rock bands take stage in what become major cultural event. Local band Otrazhenie (Reflection), a pioneer and a leader of the Belorussian Hard Rock is a constant participant and a contributor to the festival.

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Mazyr is twinned with:[8][9]

Notable residents[edit]


  1. ^ [1] Archived February 22, 2020, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Yahad - in Unum".
  3. ^ site about Mozyr [2]
  4. ^ Ghettos of Gomel district [3]
  5. ^ a b c d Jewish Heritage Research Group in Belarus.[4]
  6. ^ "Mazyr". Retrieved 2021-05-31.
  7. ^ "Mazyr, Tramway — Roster". Retrieved 2021-05-31.
  8. ^ "Miasta Partnerskie Chojnic". (in Polish). Chojnice. Retrieved 2020-02-11.
  9. ^ "Межрегиональные и шефские связи". (in Russian). Severodvinsk. Retrieved 2020-02-11.
  10. ^ Дубавец Сяргей Іванавіч

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°03′N 29°16′E / 52.050°N 29.267°E / 52.050; 29.267