- Perm’s industry 5. Traditionally liberal
- Beneficial location 6. The greatest achievement
- City’s cultural life 7. Natural resource as attraction
- Too important to be left alone 8. Where the name comes from
A. The word “Perm” first appeared in the 12th century in the Primary Chronicle, the main source describing the early history of the Russian people. The Perm were listed among the people who paid tribute to the Rus. The origin of the word “Perm” remains unclear. Most likely, the word came from the Finno-Ugric languages and meant “far land” or “flat, forested place”. But some local residents say it may have come from Per, a hero and the main character of many local legends.
B. Novgorodian traders were the first to show an interest in Perm. Starting from the 15th century, the Muscovite princes included the area in their plans to create a unified Russian state. During this time the first Russian villages appeared in the northern part of the region. The first industry to appear in the area was a salt factory, which developed on the Usolka river in the city of Solikamsk. Rich salt reserves generated great interest on the part of Russia’s wealthiest merchants, some of whom bought land there.
C. The history of the modern city of Perm starts with the development of the Ural region by Tsar Peter the Great. Perm became the capital of the region in 1781 when the territorial structure of the country was reformed. A special commission determined that the best place would be at the crossroads of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, which runs east-west and the Kazan line, which runs north-south. This choice resulted in Perm becoming a major trade and industrial centre. The city quickly grew to become one of the biggest in the region.
D. Perm is generally stable and peaceful, so the shocks of 1917 did not reach it right away. Neither did they have the same bloody results as in Petrograd. Perm tried to distance itself from the excesses and did not share the enthusiasm for change of its neighbours. Residents supported more moderate parties. They voted for the establishment of a west European style democracy in Russia. Unfortunately, the city could not stay completely unaffected, as both the White and the Red armies wanted its factories.
E. Perm’s desire for stability and self-control made the region seem like a “swamp” during the democratic reforms of the 1990s. Unlike other regions, there were no intense social conflicts or strikes. Nevertheless, Perm was always among the regions that supported the democratic movement. In the 1999 elections, the party that wanted to continue the reforms won a majority in the region. So the city got an unofficial status of “the capital of civil society” or even “the capital of Russian liberalism”.
F. During the Second World War many factories were moved to Perm Oblast and continued to work there after it ended. Chemicals, non-ferrous metallurgy, and oil refining were the key industries after the war. Other factories produced aircraft engines, equipment for telephones, ships, bicycles, and cable. Perm press produces about 70 percent of Russia’s currency and stamped envelopes. Nowadays several major business companies are located in Perm. The biggest players of Russian aircraft industry are among them.
G. Perm has at least a dozen theatres featuring productions that are attracting audiences from faraway cities, and even from abroad. The broad esplanade running from the city’s main square has become the site of almost continuous international art, theatre and music fairs during the summer. Even the former prison camp with grim walls outside town was converted into a theater last July for a production of “Fidelio”, Beethoven’s opera about political repression. The performance was well-reviewed.