Novorossiysk (Russian: Новороссийск; IPA: [nəvərɐˈsʲijsk]; Adyghe: Цӏэмэз, Ts’emez) is a city in Krasnodar Krai, Russia. It is the country’s main port on the Black Sea and the leading Russian port for importing grain. It is one of the few cities honored with the title of the Hero City. Population: 241,952 (2010 Census); 232,079 (2002 Census); 185,938 (1989 Census).
In antiquity, the shores of the Tsemess Bay were the site of Bata, an ancient Greek colony that specialized in the grain trade. It is mentioned in the works of Strabo and Ptolemy, among others. Genoese merchants from the Ghisolfi family maintained a trade outpost there in the Middle Ages. Archaeological investigation of the area is in its infancy, but some interesting items have already been uncovered.
From 1722, the bay was commanded by the Ottoman fortress of Sujuk-Qale or Soğucak. After the coastline was ceded to Russia in 1829 as a result of the Russo-Turkish War, admirals Mikhail Lazarev and Nikolay Raevsky founded an eastern base for the Black Sea Fleet on the shore in 1838. Named after the province of Novorossiya, the port formed a vital link in the chain of forts known as the Black Sea Coastal Line, which stretched south to Sochi.
During the rest of the 19th century, Novorossiysk developed rapidly. It was granted city status in 1866 and became the capital of the Black Sea Governorate, the smallest in the Russian Empire, in 1896. In December 1905, the city was the seat of the short-lived Novorossiysk Republic. From August 26, 1918 until March 27, 1920, Novorossiysk was the principal center of Denikin’s White Army. Denikin’s South Russian Government was moved to Crimea and many Whites escaped from Novorossiysk to Constantinople.
The town was occupied by the Wehrmacht on September 10, 1942, but a small unit of Soviet sailors defended one part of the town, known as Malaya Zemlya, for 225 days beginning on February 4, 1943, and the town was liberated by the Red Army on September 16, 1943. The heroic defense of the port by the sailors allowed the Soviets to retain possession of the city’s bay, which prevented the Germans from using the port for supply shipments. Novorossiysk was awarded the title Hero City in 1973.
In 1960, the town was commemorated in Dmitri Shostakovich’s work Novorossiysk Chimes, the Flame of Eternal Glory (Opus 111b).
In 2003, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree setting up a naval base for the Black Sea Fleet in Novorossiysk. Russia has allocated 12.3 billion rubles (about $480 million) for the construction of the new base between 2007 and 2012. The construction of other facilities and infrastructure at the base, including units for coastal troops, aviation and logistics, will continue beyond 2012.
The Russian lease on port facilities in Sevastopol, Ukraine’s main port on the Black Sea, used by the Russian Navy, is set to expire in 2017. Ukraine was reported to be planning to not renew the lease; however, in April 2010 the Russian and Ukrainian presidents signed agreements to extend the lease by twenty-five years, with an option of further extension of five years after the new term expires.