Mozyr, also Mazyr (Belarusian: Мазыр, pronounced [maˈzɨr]; Polish: Mozyrz; Russian: Мозырь, pronounced [ˈmozɨrʲ]) is a big town in the Homiel Province of Belarus on the Pripyat River and 100 km northwest of Chernobyl. The population is 111,770 (2004 estimate). Mazyr is known as a center of oil refining, 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. The Druzhba pipeline carries crude oil from Russia splitting in two at Mozyr. 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 heights (up to 80 m). 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 length, up to 200 m 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. This is unique landscape for tourism business development.
Mozyr is one of the oldest cities of historical Ruthenia. First mentioned in mid-12th century as part of Duchy of Vladimir, and then the Duchy of Kiev. In 13th century it was conquered by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Initially a small settlement, in 15th century it was donated to Duke Michał Gliński, 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 Mozyr 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 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 Mozyr grew to over 10 thousand inhabitants by the end of the century, most of them Jewish.
During the Polish-Soviet War of 1920 the town was captured by the Polish Army in the so-called Mozyr 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 again 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 Bolshevist Russia and became part of the Belarussian SSR. Since 1938 the town was a seat of Polesie region, however in 1954 it lost that status and was administratively attached to the region of Homyel.
See photos of Mozyr town in this travel photo gallery from Verde Wanderer. Pictures have been taken on 04-06 January, 2013.