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Tserkva Oleksandra Nevs'kogo Slov'ians'k DJI 0096.jpg
Zhitlovii budinok, vul. Vchitel's'ka (Kalinina), 46.jpg
Sloviansk Yuriy Skydanov Stadium 12.jpg
Flag of Sloviansk.svg
Coat of Arms of Sloviansk.svg
Donetsk province physical map.svg
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Reliefkarte Ukraine 2022.png
Red pog.svg
Coordinates: 48°51′12″N37°37′30″E / 48.85333°N 37.62500°E / 48.85333; 37.62500
CountryFlag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine
Oblast Donetsk Oblast
Raion Kramatorsk Raion
Hromada Sloviansk urban hromada
City status1784
  Mayor Vadym Liakh  [ uk; ru ] [1] (Opposition Bloc [1] )
  Total58.9 km2 (22.7 sq mi)
74 m (243 ft)
 (1 January 2022) [2]
  Density1,800/km2 (4,600/sq mi)
 In June 2022, the population was estimated less than 24,000. [3]
Postal code
Area code +380-6262
Climate Warm summer subtype
KATOTTH UA14120210010032554

Sloviansk [lower-alpha 1] is a city in Donetsk Oblast, northern part of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. The city was known as Tor until 1784. [6] While it did not actually belong to the raion itself, Sloviansk served as the administrative center of the Sloviansk Raion (district) until its abolition on 18 July 2020.


Sloviansk was one of the focal points in the early stages of the war in Donbas, in 2014, as it was one of the first cities to be seized and controlled by Russian-backed rebels (separatists), in mid-April 2014. [7] [8] Ukrainian forces then retook control of the city in July 2014, and since then, Sloviansk has been under Ukrainian control.

The 2001 population of Sloviansk was 141,066. Largely due to the ongoing war in Donbass, by early 2022 this was down to 105,141. [9] Following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the city's population fell markedly, to around 24,000 by July 2022, due to shelling, and ongoing war, according to Ukrainian authorities. As of December 2023, this is the final time the city's population has been estimated, and the current population is unknown. [10]


Founding and early history

The history of Sloviansk dates back to 1645 when Russian Tsar Alexei Romanov founded a border fortress named Tor [11] against the Crimean attacks and slave raids on the southern suburbs of modern Ukraine and Russia. [12] In 1664, the first salt plant for the extraction of salt was built, and workers began to settle in the area. [13] In 1676, a fortress named Tor was built at the confluence of the Kazenyy Torets and Sukhyy Torets River, where they form the Torets River, a tributary of Donets River. [14] Shortly thereafter, the town of Tor grew up next to the fortress. [12]

Sloviansk in the late 19th century Stantsiia Slaviansk v kontse XIX veka.jpg
Sloviansk in the late 19th century

As several salt lakes were located close by, the town soon became a major producer of salt. During the sixteenth century, salt production was the principal local industry. In 1784, the city was renamed Slovenske, and a decade later, Sloviansk (Slavyansk). [15]

In 1827, military doctor A. Yakovlev was the first to use mud treatment and bathing in Lake Ropne to treat sick soldiers. Four years later, a military hospital of 200 beds was opened near the lake, where mud therapy was used. In 1832, the first resort was established on the shores of Lake Ropne. [16] With the construction of a railway line in 1869, the town grew rapidly, from a population of 5,900 in 1847 to 15,700 by 1897. [15]

20th century

Sloviansk in the early 20th century Otkrytka Slavianska No. 16.jpg
Sloviansk in the early 20th century

In April 1918, troops loyal to the Ukrainian People's Republic briefly took control of Sloviansk. [17] Sloviansk was then, along with the rest of Ukraine, incorporated into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

In World War II, the city was occupied by Nazi Germans on 28 October 1941. In December 1941, the SS Einsatzkommando 4b murdered more than a thousand Jews who lived in Sloviansk. [18] The Red Army temporarily expelled the Nazi occupiers on 17 February 1943. Germans retook it on 1 March 1943. The Red Army finally liberated Sloviansk on 6 September 1943.

Salt extraction in Sloviansk in turn gave rise to salt refining and packaging, soda and other chemical manufacturing. By 1972 there were 18 related enterprises in the city, including plastics and the making of vinyl records. [15] Sloviansk reached its peak population of 143,000 in 1987. Sloviansk would remain as part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic until its dissolution in 1991, after which the city became part of an independent Ukraine. [15]

Siege of Sloviansk

The 2014 Ukrainian revolution for the most part passed Sloviansk by, with no large-scale gatherings or events in the city, and polls showing people in the east of Ukraine to be largely opposed to the Maidan movement in Kyiv. [19] However, Sloviansk would quickly become the epicentre of events following the fallout of the revolution. On 12 April 2014, in the crisis and chaos which gripped the country following the revolution's installing of the First Yatsenyuk government, a reported 55 armed men, led by Russian military veteran Igor Girkin, known as 'Igor Strelkov' stormed Sloviansk, quickly capturing the executive committee building, the police department, and the SBU office of the city. [20] [21] [22] Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov described the gunmen as "terrorists" and vowed to use the Ukrainian special forces to retake the buildings. [23] [24] On 13 April 2014, there were reports of fighting between the gunmen and Ukrainian troops, with casualties reported on both sides. [25] [26] The BBC's David Stern described the pro-Russian forces as carrying Russian weapons and resembling the soldiers that took over Crimean installations at the start of the 2014 Crimean crisis. [25] [27]

Pro-Russia rebels in Sloviansk BMDs of Sloviansk self-defense.jpg
Pro-Russia rebels in Sloviansk

Initially, the pro-Russia rebels enjoyed strong support, with the New York Times reporting: "Thousands of residents thronged a large square in front of City Hall to welcome the pro-Russian putsch, chanting “Russia, Russia” and posing for photographs with gunmen they hailed as their saviors from the fascists who had seized power in Kiev with the February ouster of President Victor F. Yanukovych, a Russian-speaker from Donetsk." [28]

Victory Day 2014 in Sloviansk 9 May in Sloviansk.jpg
Victory Day 2014 in Sloviansk

Elected mayor of Sloviansk Nelya Shtepa gave a series of contradictory statements on her support for the pro-Russia side, and was then taken captive by the pro-Russia side. Shtepa would be one of several high-profile detainments during rebel control of Sloviansk. [29] On April 14 the pro-Russia side installed their own 'people's mayor' Vyacheslav Ponomarev, to deal with civilian matters, and press, while Strelkov / Girkin took charge of military matters. [30] Throughout April, and May, Ponomarev would hold near daily press conferences in the city's admininstrative building. [31] On May 9, Victory Day, there was a parade, and large gathering of people in the central Square of Sloviansk. Nelya Shtepa appeared, the first time she had been seen in public since mid-April, and gave a pro-Russian speech on stage, urging people to vote in the referendum scheduled for May 11. Recently freed rebel leader Pavel Gubarev also appeared on stage. [32] Referendums went ahead across Donbas on May 11, including Sloviansk, with the pro-Russia side reporting a turnout of near 75%, with over 90% vosting for self rule as part of the Donetsk/Luhansk People's Republics. However, the referendums were not monitored, or endorsed, by any international observers, or organisations, and their results almost universally unrecognised in the west. Russia issued a statement saying they 'respected' the results of the referendums, but stopped short of recognising them. [33] [34]

Fighting intensified throughout May, as Ukrainian forces escalated their 'ATO' (Anti-Terror Operation) to retake the city, with a Ukrainian military helicopter shot down at the start of the month, and multiple casualties reported in fighting on both sides. [35] May would also see escalating civilian casualties in Sloviansk, as Ukrainian forces began their assault on the city. On May 5, 30-year-old Irina Boevets was killed by a stray Ukrainian bullet, as she stepped out on her balcony. The Guardian at the time reported these civilian deaths as "fuelling pro-Russian sentiment". [36] Fighting between sides would wage on May, with increasing intensity. A follow-up referendum to the referendum on May 11 had been planned for May 18th, giving voters the option of joining Russia, however this was abandoned due to the escalation of fighting. On 29 May 2014, a Ukrainian helicopter carrying fourteen Ukrainian special service soldiers, including General Serhiy Kulchytskiy – the head of combat and special training for Ukraine's National Guard, crashed after being shot down by militants near Sloviansk. Ukraine's outgoing President Olexander Turchynov described the downing as a "terrorist attack," and blamed pro-Russian militants. [37]

As June went on, it became clear that the pro-Russia side were losing the battle for Sloviansk, beset by a number of problems, including infighting, with enmity between 'people's mayor' Ponomarev, and Strelkov/Girkin, resulting in Strelkov/Girkin having Ponomarev arrested, and dismissed from his duties, on June 12. [30] Ukrainian forces further stepped up their shelling of Sloviansk in June. [38] Sloviansk was ultimately held by Russian-backed rebels for nearly three months, from mid-April until 5 July 2014, during which time fighting between the rebels and the Ukrainian army escalated, along with shelling of civilian areas of the city, with both military and civilian casualties. [39] In late June, the Ukrainian army started advancing on Sloviansk, taking strategically significant locationed, including the Karachun Mountains. This, combined with Strelkov's videos decrying a lack of support, made the rebel retreat an inevitability. [40] [41] A 10-day ceasefire, not entirely observed by either side, ended on June 30, and in early July, faced with a full-on Ukrainian offensive, Strelkov co-ordinated the retreat of his forces from Sloviansk. [42] Initially they had planned to go to nearby Kramatorsk, however when it became clear that the Ukrainian army would also take Kramatorsk, which they duly did, most headed to Donetsk, which would then become their stronghold. [43]

Sloviansk was one of several territories taken by Ukrainian forces at this time, including the nearby cities of Kramatorsk, and Kostiantynivka. [44] Although Sloviansk's capture was a military victory for Ukrainian forces, the successful co-ordinated retreat of the rebel forces, and fall back to a fortified Donetsk, led to accusations, and recriminations, from the Ukrainian side. [45]

General Serhiy Krivonos, Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, said in 2020 that the Ukrainian Army was aware of the movement of Girkin's columns out of Sloviansk but did not attack the columms:

Having some information from our sources from Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, we understood that they [the separatists] would come out. This understanding was clearly formed between July 2 and 3. And already on the 4th it was clear that they would leave that night from 4 to 5 July. We actively conducted reconnaissance and gave coordinates directly on the night movement of the column, and on the daytime location of the enemy in Kramatorsk, and then on the exit of Girkin's columns from Kramatorsk. These coordinates were given. There was no implementation of [an attack on] these coordinates. [46]

A series of incidents, and a difficult ongoing living situation had resulted in support for the pro-Russian rebels eroding in the near three months that Sloviansk was under their control. The New York Times reported that 'many of the same people' who had once supported the pro-Russia rebels 'rushed into the same square to greet Ukrainian military trucks as soldiers handed out free food. Virtually nobody now admits to having supported the separatists.' Konstantin Batozsky, an aide to the Kyiv-appointed governor of the Donetsk region, which included Sloviansk, stated of the people of Sloviansk: “They are happy to welcome whoever gives them food.” [28]

Aftermath of the siege and decommunization

Following Ukraine's recapture of Sloviansk in July 2014, Ukrainian authorities began a 'hunt' for collaborators, setting up a hotline encouraging residents of the city to inform on those who had 'collaborated with pro-Russian rebels'. There were further discoveries of 'mass graves'. The New York Times reported at this time "There is no mood of joyous celebration at what Ukrainian officials trumpet as the city’s “liberation.” Anger and animosity bubbles just below the calm surface. In each workplace, everyone knows who did what during rebel rule, creating poisonous currents of suspicion." [28] The population of Sloviansk had fallen to around 80,000 at this time.

In 2015, as part of Ukraine's process of decommunization, the fate of Sloviansk's statue of Lenin, in the city's central square, became a topic of heated debate at council meetings. Large factions from Ukrainian ultra-national groups Svoboda and the Right Sector attended these meetings, in support of the removal / destruction of the statue. There were also locals in favour of keeping the statue, with a petition of 4,500 signatures supporting the Lenin statue remaining. No consensus had been reached, when in the early hours of June 3, Right Sector militants tore the statue down. [47] Also in 2015, a plaque to the memory of Volodymyr Rybak, a Ukrainian politician killed by pro-Russian rebels in 2014, was placed in the town center. [48]

Although war continued in parts of Donbas, there were no notable incidents in Sloviansk following its recapture by Ukrainian forces in July of 2014, until 2022. In 2016, the city was visited by Orlando Bloom in his role as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador. [49] The population of Sloviansk would recover in the years up to 2022, to pre-2014 level. [15]

Russian invasion of Ukraine

Damage to a residential building in Sloviansk after the April 2023 airstrike by Russia Sloviansk after Russian shelling, 2023-04-14 (01).jpg
Damage to a residential building in Sloviansk after the April 2023 airstrike by Russia

Sloviansk has been affected from the start of the 2022 Invasion of Ukraine, without becoming a central theatre of war. The city has several times fallen under shelling, with the loss of civilian life. [50] [51] [52]

The city has been described as being a "crucial part Moscow’s objective of capturing all of the Donbas region". [53]


According to the 2001 Ukrainian Census: [54]

Ukrainians 104,42373.1%
Russians 33,64923.6%
Turks 8290.6%
Belarusians 7660.5%
Armenians 5920.4%
Greeks 3200.2%
Roma people 2790.2%
Azerbaijanis 2080.1%

Total 2001 population: 141,066


Sloviansk is in the valley of the Kazennyi Torets River, a right tributary of the Donets, in the Donbas region.

Karachun Mountains are the highest point of Sloviansk, situated to the south of the city. [55]


The climate in Sloviansk is a mild to warm summer subtype (Köppen: Dfb) of the humid continental climate.

Climate data for Sloviansk
Daily mean °C (°F)−5.9
Average precipitation mm (inches)45
Source: [56]

Economy and Industry

The Sloviansk Balneological Institute Sloviansk Balneological Institute.jpg
The Sloviansk Balneological Institute


Sloviansk Railway Station Sloviansk Railway Station2.jpg
Sloviansk Railway Station

Sloviansk is a nexus of a number of railways and roads. The city is served by three railway passenger stations: Slovianskyi Resort (in the northeast), ‘Mashchormet’ (at the junction), and 'Sloviansk' (the main station, west of the junction, on the southwest side of the city). Three railway lines leave the city in directions of Lozova, Lyman and Kramatorsk. The local population is served by a trolleybus network consisting of two permanent routes and one summer route. Marshrutkas are widely used.

The M03 goes by the edge of Sloviansk. In early 2015, Ukraine lost control of the section of this from Debaltsevo on, then in early 2023 Ukraine lost control of the section from Soledar to Debaltsevo. H20 leaves from the city toward Mariupol, via Kramatorsk, Kostiantynivka, Donetsk, and Volnovakha. Ukraine lost control of part of this highway, around Donetsk, in 2014. The first part of 2022 saw fierce fighting on or around the highway, and by summer of 2022, Ukraine had lost control of the H20 highway, from around Donetsk onto Mariupol.

Religious organizations

The Church of the Resurrection of Christ Sloviansk Resurrection Church.jpg
The Church of the Resurrection of Christ

Christian churches:

Notable people

See also

Related Research Articles

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  1. Ukrainian: Слов'янськ, IPA: [slou̯ˈjɑnʲsʲk] ; Russian: Славянск, romanized: Slavyansk, [4] IPA: [slɐˈvʲansk] or [ˈslavʲɪnsk] [5]


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