- By Anton Filippov
- Apr. 07 2013 16:54
Main industries: metallurgy, household appliances production, food processing.
Mayor: Mikhail Gulevsky (+7 474-222-3760,
Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great
Interesting fact: Lipetsk is а place where Vladimir Lisin, the second-richest Russian, lives and works. His net worth was estimated by Forbes in 2012 to be $15.9 billion.
Sister cities: Cottbus, Germany; Anshan, China; Fabriano, Italy; Vinnytsia, Ukraine.
Helpful contacts: Mayor's Office (+7 474-222-3760); Vashe Taxi (+7 474-278-0780); Velikan Taxi (+7 4742 397700);
LIPETSK, Lipetsk Region — It's not often that something positive is born out of the destruction of war, but Lipetsk is one such example.
In the beginning of the 18th century, after Peter the Great started the Northern War with Sweden, his main supplier of iron, he needed to find domestic sources to compensate.
In 1703, the giant tsar began to build metallurgical plants on the banks of the river Lipovka. The development of Ural iron deposits had begun, and Lipetsk appeared on the map along with other cities in the black earth region of central Russia.
But until 1779 Lipetsk did not officially exist as a city, having been incorporated that year by Catherine the Great.
The city is still surrounded by fertile fields, picturesque forests and tall pines that were also used by Peter the Great to jump start his naval ambitions and begin the construction in earnest of his fleet.
The quiet life of the provincial town changed in 1934 when the Soviets decided to bring the metallurgical industry to the next plateau of development by founding the Novolipetsky Metallurgical factory. The city started to develop rapidly. In 1943, the Lipetsk Tractor Plant was also created. Although it went bankrupt in 2004, you can still find LTZ tractors, known for their reliability, serving in all corners of the former Soviet Union.
NLMK (2 Ploshchad Metallurgov;
Indesit Company (indesit.ru; +7 4742 424422) has two plants in Lipetsk — one making refrigerators, the other washing machines — since 2005. Its white-goods logistics center in Lipetsk is the largest of its kind in Europe.
Lipetskmoloko (1 Ulitsa Katukova;
The city is prosperous now because the metallurgical factory morphed into NLMK, the biggest plant and employer in town. Its steel production flows through transportation networks to supply Russia and 70 countries around the world.
Modern Lipetsk has a pleasant appearance. A tradition of urban planning stretches from the ashes of a great fire in 1806 through the controlled obsessiveness of Soviet authorities. Clean and tidy streets are well laid out, while modern buildings intermingle with 18th century monuments.
The industrial history and sense of order give the city its own sense of machismo, with the majority of the population working jobs involving manual labor. Lipetsk is contemptuous of pale and sick intellectuals, and those who whine and complain.
This force can be heard in the very speech habits of the natives. Those with a carefully tuned ear will immediately notice features of the local dialect. Lipchanye, as native-born residents are called, often replace the words "strong" and "big" with the word "mighty"— moguchy in Russian. And even then the syllable stress is their invention. Phrases are peppered with more superlatives than one would find being used by the average Muscovite. These traits can also help one to differentiate natives from new residents.
Q: What can are your achievements in 2012 and your plans for 2013?
A: The city's well-being largely depends on the results of the steel giant NLMK. Therefore, one of the priorities of the administration is to diversify the economy. The basic efforts are directed to support small and medium business, to attract more investments and to organize new high-tech production. One of the key projects developed by the administration is the creation of a special regional economic, technology and innovative zone: Lipetsk — Technopolyus. Small innovative enterprises will reside there.
In the social sphere, we expanded the network of preschool institutions: In connection with the improvement of the demographic situation, the need for them is growing. In fact, a new kindergarten comes on line every year. We are also building two modern schools at the same time.
With the involvement of a large investor, a large-scale sports complex in the southwest of the city is being constructed. In the future, it will be possible to hold national competitions there.
Q: What is the city administration doing to improve infrastructure?
A: The radical renewal of road infrastructure is a global problem that cannot be solved only by our city, without any investments and regional authorities' help. But we have specific results in this area. Lipetsk is among three cities of Russia participating in a long-term pilot project on the organization of road traffic, which will be implemented with the financial support of the World Bank and the Transportation Ministry. We plan to spend 3 billion rubles to improve our roads, with the help of these organizations. Thanks to the large-scale investments we plan not only to solve current problems, but also to work for future improvements.
From 2007 to 2012 Lipetsk, along with 38 other regions, participated in the resettlement program for compatriots returning from abroad. The main goal was to help former Soviet citizens who became foreigners after the breakup, to resettle to Russia. The program added more than 14 thousand people to the population of Lipetsk. But these immigrants are not the only unique type of residents.
Peter the Great also left the city with another legacy. He placed a network of prison camps in the surrounding area. Keeping with tradition, released convicts frequently stayed in the area, as part of their sentence or by choice.
On the outskirts of Lipetsk, for example, sits the village of Sselki, with a population of 5,000. The name itself is a giveaway, coming from the word ssylat, meaning "to exile."
There are now four large prisons on the territory of Lipetsk, and a mere 82 kilometers away is the town of Yelets, where another penal colony is located.
The prisoners' legacy is ever-present. Their hands help build and run the factories, while their special tea, called chifir, is popular throughout the region. Until recently, if one wanted to visit a dentist in Lipetsk, a certificate showing the absence of tuberculosis — an illness common among prisoners — was necessary.
The environmental condition of Lipetsk is also typically paradoxical. Since the 19th century, Lipetsk functioned as a resort town, too, famous all over the country for its curative springs. Lipetskiy Byuvet mineral water can be found in many stores across the country.
But industrialization has also taken its toll. NMLK is not only the main employer and a source of income for the city, but also the main contaminant. The company strives to minimize the damage caused to the ecology of the city, and the trend is positive. The overall index of air pollution in 2000 was 24.43 units of maximum permissible concentration, where an acceptable norm is four to seven units. But by 2007, the measure fell to 8.63 units.
But accidents still happen, even today. Two people died after a leak of benzol at the NLMK factory in February, RIA-Novosti reported.
The political life of Lipetsk is another dynamic aspect. Some years ago the city was referred to as the Red Belt of Russia, due to the traditionally strong position of the Communist party. There were even functioning Pioneer and Komsomol organizations. However, in the 2012 presidential elections, Lipetsk Communists wound up in15th place versus their success in other traditionally strong regions. Even the national ruling party, United Russia, had a weak showing. Voter turnout in the Lipetsk region, which, according to the BBC, dropped 16 percent versus the last presidential election, showed the biggest decline of any city in Russia except for Omsk.
It is difficult to say why such political indifference occurred, though maybe Lipetsk's rising political apathy can be considered a healthy accompaniment to its economic growth. Income levels, birth rates and real estate prices are the highest in the region. Perhaps people are too busy carrying out their mighty labors to be bothered by going to the polls.
What to see if you have two hours
Start with the central square. Now called Sobornaya in honor of the main cathedral, until 1993 this square was named after Lenin. Here you will find the main administration building faithfully constructed to the standards of Soviet realist architecture. In front of it you will see the ubiquitous Lenin monument, first erected in 1957 and changed in 1982. The founding father looks unusual, without expressive gestures — just a man with clever and sad eyes squeezing his famous cap in his right hand. Near this statue in honor of the main atheist of Russian history you will see Rozhdestvensky Cathedral, built in 1791. This beautiful church has a high bell tower.
Q: What would you say are your company's main achievements?
A: NLMK makes up the city. It is the largest employer and taxpayer in Lipetsk and the surrounding region. The company employs about 30,000 people, and our tax payments make up almost 40 percent of Lipetsk's budget. The social and economic situation in the city depends on the stability and success of our company, and similarly, our employees' happiness depends on how comfortable they are in the city.
You could say that our company is lucky. At the end of the 1990s, the arrival of a new majority shareholder, Vladimir Lisin, set us on the path of innovative development. Over the past 12 years, our company has invested more than 218 billion rubles in its Lipetsk operations alone. This has allowed us to update many units, increase production capacity, reduce our environmental impact and increase energy efficiency. It also means that employee salaries are constantly rising too.
Our aim now is to achieve the best possible standards and to use the best technological and management practices available. We expect to save more than 2 billion rubles this year by improving efficiency. We have set ourselves the ambitious task of maintaining our position as the leader in the global steel industry.
Q: What social programs did NLMK introduce last year?
A: NLMK is a socially responsible company. We help nurseries and schools in the city repair buildings, buy teaching equipment and support gifted children. In 2012 we funded a regional gathering for gifted children, and we hold an annual research conference for high school students entitled "The Way to Science." Every year on National Metallurgists' Day we organize sports competitions with prizes for the best young athletes in Lipetsk and their trainers. During the summer holidays, we provide accommodation in Camp Prometheus not only for our workers' children, but also for children from children's homes and disadvantaged families.
In total, last year NLMK spent 443 million rubles on supporting local residents, public organizations and sports associations. All of the plant's social programs will continue in 2013, so the company can meet all of its obligations to its employees and provide assistance to those people in the region who need it most.
You can also visit the four-story Lipetsk regional history museum (25 Ulitsa Lenina; +7 474-227-0212) and learn how a small industrial town grew into a major city. There you will find historical documents and prerevolutionary photographs. You can also see tools that were used by workers in the beginning of 18th century. Local engravings and masterpieces of such great Russian painters as Vasnetsov and Ayvazovsky are on display as well. Since World War II did not touch this city, the collection is rich and in good condition.
What to do if you have two days
Many residents of Lipetsk fought for the freedom of their motherland during World War II and were killed on different battlefields. There is a memorial complex on Hero's Square, to the north of Sobornaya Square at the intersection of Ulitsa Gagarina and Ulitsa Zegelya. Here you can see portraits made from bronze of local war heroes. In 2005, the authorities created a monument here where you will see the names of all 202 who received the "Hero of the Soviet Union" distinction and lived in the Lipetsk region.
Continuing with the military theme, you can visit Tankmen Heroes' monument created in 1978 on Tankistov Square. It includes a full-size T-34 tank as part of the display.
Other specific monuments around town include one to Peter the Great on the square of the same name; a monument to teachers in front of School No. 44; one to space heroes on Cosmonauts' Square; and even one to traffic police who fell in the line of duty, located in front of the local headquarters at 2 Ulitsa Nedelina. Since the city's prevailing themes are metal and agriculture, it is logical that you will find the monument to metallurgists in front of the NLMK headquarters and a full scale tractor memorial at the foot of Krasnozavodskaya Ulitsa.
A trip to the suburbs is also a good way to get a feel for the city itself. The Sselki village was added to the territory of the city in 1984, but you will feel close to nature as you walk in a picturesque pine forest, pause for a rest on the shore of Kurkino lake, which is part of a local nature reserve, or stop into the Mikhail Archangel church, which was built in 1895 where another church had stood from 1699, before the creation of Lipetsk. You can get there every day by bus from the city's Sokol district.
Further afield, you can visit Yelets, the region's second-biggest city, founded in the beginning of the 12th century. A direct commuter train from the Lipetsk central station will take you there. The 83-kilometer trip takes two hours and costs about 160 rubles ($5). The main sites are the multitude of Orthodox churches.
The Lipetskkurort mineral water spa (1 Ulitsa Saltykova-Shchedrina +7 474-227-2280) is a place to relax and unwind. The spa celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2005. You can treat yourself to the medicinal mud, a mineral water bath, massage or an overall audit of your state of health. Prices range from 600 rubles to 3,350 rubles for one person depending on treatment and time spent.
What to do with the children
For transportation enthusiasts, the Lipetsk Aviation Center Museum (near Ulitsa Kosmonavtov) will show you everything you ever wanted to know about the famous Falcons of Russia aerobatic team that trains near Lipetsk and takes part in major air shows around the world.
Young people who want more action can go to the Xtreme Zona paintball venue (17 Ulitsa Kosmonavtov; +7 903-861-8646;
Families can enjoy the green trees and beautiful flowers of Nizhny Park. It is the largest and most popular recreation zone in town, in the central part of the city near Sobornaya Hill. Here you can also stroll along the Voronezh River and see the port where the Russian Navy was created in the beginning of the 18th century by Peter the Great. The park was set up in 1809 near the Lipetsk mineral water resort.
If you've had enough of the daytime healthy way of life, you will find many interesting ways to spend an evening in Lipetsk. For example, a karaoke bar at 108 Ulitsa Gagarina, with the humorous name Zapoi — a term that can refer to both drinking and signing — will welcome your demonstration of both talents.
Having exercised your throat and your liver, you can move on to the men's club, Parol (11 Ulitsa Lenina;
Arm movement is the rage at the bowling club Billy BO (10 Ulitsa Titova; +7 474-236-6166).
Where to eat
Delicious dishes can be found at the De Bassus restaurant chains (8 Pobedy Square; 98 Ulitsa Kosmonavtov; 20 Ulitsa Tereshkovoi;
At the Pizza Cafe (78 Ulitsa Pervomayskaya; +7 474-222-1785), you can dine on good pizza for 400 rubles.
The Forward Cafe (25 Sovietskaya Ulitsa; +7 474-277-1941) is also famous for its reasonable prices, delicious dishes and fast service. There are several low-cost business lunches on the menu here, starting at 180 rubles.
Where to stay
The three-star Lipetsk Hotel (11 Ulitsa Lenina; +7 474-227-7217) is the biggest in the city, with 135 rooms. The hotel offers low-cost rooms, around-the-clock guarded parking, a bar, a hairdressing salon, a cafe, two restaurants, a fitness gym and a sauna. A room at 3,200 rubles per night will include a television, fridge, toilet, shower and breakfast.
Another good hotel is the Sovietskaya (5 Ulitsa Voroshilova; +7 474-277-2311;
The inhabitants of Lipetsk are often religious, so you can easily start a conversation with them about an upcoming or past Orthodox feast. You can also discuss a service that you observed in any church. The people are generally friendlier and more open here than, for example, in the northwest of Russia. Therefore, it is quite likely that they will begin to talk to you by themselves.
You can also ask their view of the forthcoming festival in Lipetsk celebrating the city's 310th anniversary. The mayor's website says the inscription "I love Lipetsk" will soon be replaced by "310 years of Lipetsk." On Peter the Great Square, an old cannon will be installed, while 500 new trees and 2,500 bushes will be planted around the city at a cost of 34 million rubles. The festival will take place on the third Sunday of July, which is a combined holiday of City Day and Metallurgist Day.
How to get there
UTair will fly you from Vnukovo to Lipetsk on its daily flight, which departs at 9:40 p.m. and arrives in about an hour, costing 1,600 rubles one way.
Trains to Lipetsk or Voronezh (getting off in Lipetsk) depart from Paveletsky Station. The trip takes about 9 1/2 hours and a bunk in a second-class sleeping car will cost 4,100 rubles.
A bus to Lipetsk departs from in front of Paveletsky Station every day. The trip takes seven hours and costs 900 rubles.