Stavropol Krai

   An administrative province of the Russian Federation. Previously called the Ordzhonikidze Krai, Stavropol was given its current name in 1943. Situated in the central North Caucasus, the krai borders Kalmykiya, Dagestan, Chechnya, North Ossetiya, Kabardino-Balkariya, Karachay-Cherkessiya, Krasnodar Krai, and Rostov Oblast; Karachay-Cherkessiya was formerly an autonomous oblast within the region. The krai covers a territory of 66,500 square kilometers, and is part of the Southern Federal District and the North Caucasus Economic Region.
   The province has over 2.7 million inhabitants; only a small majority reside in urban areas. With more than 30 statistically significant ethnic groups, Stavropol is one of Russia’s most multicultural regions. While ethnic Russians are the dominant group (81 percent), many of these continue to self-identify as Cossacks. Armenians are the second-largest group at 5.5 percent; other ethnic minorities include Ukrainians (1.7 percent), Dargins (1.5 percent), Roma (1.5 percent), and Greeks (1.2 percent), as well as a number of Turkic and Caucasian peoples indigenous to the region.
   The provincial capital is Stavropol (pop. 354,000); the city’s name is adapted from the Greek “city of the cross.” The city served as a base of operations for the Romanov Empire’s conquest of the Caucasus; today, it is an important education center in the Russian south. Other cities in the province include Kislovodsk, Piatigorsk, and Nevinnomyssk. The regional topography changes from a mixture of plains and foothills to mountains as one moves south; the highest point is Mount Dombay-Ulgen (4,046 m).
   The provincial economy is diversified, and includes agriculture, industry, tourism, and transport. Major crops include grain, sunflowers, sugar beets, citrus, and legumes; the province supplies half of the country’s vegetable oil and is also an important livestock region. Stavropol, when compared to other Russian regions, is comparatively underdeveloped in terms of industrialization; however, key sectors include food processing, chemicals, and electricity. Natural gas, oil, and coal are all found in the region. Due to its salubrious climate and mineral waters, the region has a long history of medicinal tourism.
   Stavropol continues to develop its recreation infrastructure to appeal to tourists from Russia and other parts of the Commonwealth of Independent States; as a crossroads for many ancient empires, the region also has strong historical appeal. In terms of international transit, the region is an important crossroads for foreign trade with the Middle East, as well as a conduit for oil and natural gas from the Caspian basin.
   In the mid-1990s, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation candidate Aleksandr Chernogorov defeated the pro-Yeltsin incumbent Petr Marchenko. Chernogorov later came under federal investigation after butting heads with the local pro-Putin Unity party (now United Russia). The region bucked the national trend by failing to vote United Russia in the first decade of the 21st century, thus allowing the party Fair Russia to claim the top spot. Chernogorov was able to hang on to his post until 2008, when he became one of the first regional governors to be removed from his post by the new president, Dmitry Medvyedev. Medvyedev nominated Valery Gayevsky to replace him.
   In 1995, a group of Chechen militants under the leadership of Shamil Basayev took control of a hospital in Budennovsk; in the ensuing siege, 166 perished and the hostage takers escaped. Bomb attacks in Pyatigorsk and Nevinnomyssk claimed more lives in 2000, and smaller attacks continued throughout the first Putin administration. During this period, the provincial leadership backed restricting immigration into the krai, culminating in a 2002 law that was declared to be in contravention of federal statutes on movement within the Russian Federation. The province was the scene of ethnic unrest in 2007 after the murders of Dmitry Blokhin and Pavel Chadin, both of Slavic descent, who were killed allegedly in response to the death of an ethnic Chechen, Gilani Atayev, a week earlier. Federal authorities detained members of the Russian National Unity to prevent the violence from spreading. The region is considered to be one of the most prone to Russian neo-fascism. The last premier of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, was born in Privolnoye, and ultimately became leader of the Communist Party in the province.
   See Chechen wars; Ethnic violence; Terrorism.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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