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Bratsk (Russian: Братск) is a city in Irkutsk Oblast, Russia, located on the Angara River near the vast Bratsk Reservoir. Population: 259,335 (2002 Census). Although the name sounds like the Russian word for 'brother' ('brat'), it actually comes from 'bratskiye lyudi', an old name for the Buryats.[3]



The first Europeans in the area arrived in 1623, intending to collect taxes from the local Buryat population. Permanent settlement began with the construction of an ostrog (fortress) in 1636 at the junction of the Oka and Angara rivers.[4] Several wooden towers from the 17th-century fort are now exhibited in Kolomenskoye Estate of Moscow.

During the Second World War there was an increase in industrial activity in Siberia, as Soviet industry was moved to the lands east of the Urals. After the war's end, development slowed as resources were required in the rebuilding of European Russia.

In 1947, the Gulag Angara prison labour camp was constructed near Bratsk, with capacity for up to 44,000 prisoners for projects such as the construction of the railway from Tayshet to Ust-Kut via Bratsk (now the western section of the Baikal Amur Mainline).[5]

The city's rapid development commenced with the announcement in 1952 that a dam and hydroelectric plant would be built at Bratsk on the Angara River. Town status was granted in 1955. The 4,500-megawatt Bratsk hydroelectric plant was built between 1954 and 1966, bringing numerous workers to the town.

Other industries in the city include an aluminium smelter and a pulp mill.

Economy and Infrastructure

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