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Leninogorsky rayon


Administrative center: Leninogorsk
Area: 1843.20 sq.km
Population: 86,200



Leninogorsky rayon is located in the extreme south-east of Tatarstan, on the border with the Samara oblast, in the upper reaches of the small river Stepnoi Zai. This very name gives us the first intuitive impression of this land, all summed up in one word – the steppe! It has shaped the history of Leninogorsky rayon…


The first to claim these lands were the nomadic tribe of Muftiyari, as far back as the 15th century. Three hundred years later, the Kazan Khanate had already turned into the Kazan gubernia, covering the whole Middle and Lower Volga and the Urals. Its borders repeatedly changed, with some territories joining and leaving, and then rejoining. The population migrated from border to border, sometimes settling down to gradually form the first small but permanent communities. The 1744/1747 census mentioned 13 Tatar villages in the area – Karatayevo, Naderevo, Seitovo, Urmushla, Sary Bikchurovo, Analokovo, Ishtiryak, Karkalya, Shugurovo, Toktarovo, Kuakbashevo, Izmailovo and Chashili. At the same time, a number of Orthodox villages grew, which were not included in the census book of Tatar yasak-paying peasants, like Pismyanskaya and Kuvatskaya slobodas (settlements). In the 1730s soldiers became the new residents of the area. In 1732 they founded the settlement of Malaya Bugulma (now Medvedka), in 1736, Bolshaya Bugulma (now the city of Bugulma), and a little later, the village of Spiridonovka.

In the years 1773 - 1775 the Pugachev rebellion rocked the Russian Empire. The civil war instantly spread across all of the Urals and Middle Volga, reaching the Bugulma voivodship. By autumn 1773, 10 rebel groups had been active in the area. After the suppression of the rebellion, a new wave of refugees flooded the area, starting the villages of Ishtiryak, Bakirovo, Novy Ishtiryak, Timyashevo, Verkhnyaya Chershila and Yultimirovo.

The history of the city of Leninogorsk also began in the 18th century. It was founded as the village of Novaya (New) Pismyanka in 1795 by settlers from the village of Staraya (Old) Pismyanka. The name of Pismyanka is not a cognate of the Russian verb “pisat” (to write), but a Russian adaptation of the Tatar toponymic "pismen" or "pechmen", frequently found in the names of rivers and villages of Tatarstan. It is derived from the Old Turkic "bishe-men", where "bishe" means "forest” or “grove" and "men" is a root found in ethnonyms like “Turkmen” or “busurmen”.

By the end of the 19th century, the area of the present-day Leninogorsky rayon had more than 40 villages with a total population of almost 30,000.

The terrible famine of the 1920s has not spared this area, claiming the life of its every third resident. But as years went by, life was improving. A social infrastructure was set up, with hospitals, schools, community centers and even its own amateur theater. In 1933, the Bakirovo resort was founded, which soon became a mecca for thousands of people wishing to improve their health.

The quiet way of life in Pismyanka changed immediately after the discovery of oil in the middle of the previous century. According to the chronicles, prospectors have been looking for oil here since the days of Peter the Great. At the end of the 19th century, a Bugulma landowner Ya. Malakienko and his sons drilled the first two wells and managed to get the first 80 buckets of oil. A few years after, an American named Laszlo Sandor volunteered to do the drilling, but his business never reached industrial capacity.

Surveying began in earnest in 1943, under the control of geologists from Kazan University. The team was headed by N.P. Gerasimov, Ye.I. Tikhvinskaya and V.A. Cherdyntsev.

On August 2, 1943 surveyors discovered the Shugurovskoye oil field at a depth of about 750 meters. As it turned out, Precambrian crystalline basement elevates from Shugurovo to the north-east, towards the village of Timyashevo. Surveying then continued in the new direction.

On July 26, 1948, 7 km away from Novaya Pismyanka, near the village of Timyashevo a drilling team of foreman Sergey Kuzmin and drill operator Rahim Khalikov tapped into a strong Devonian formation. Well number 3 produced a gusher at the total capacity of over 120 tons per day! This was the first yield of the Romashkinskoye oil field, which has since entered the top twenty supergiant oilfields in the world and given a powerful impetus to the development of the area. Soviet media used to refer to the oil fields in the south-east of Tatar ASSR as “the second Baku”.

On August 18, 1955, by the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR, the township of New Pismyanka was reorganized into the city of Leninogorsk.

The Romashkino still remains Tatarstan’s largest oil field, producing over than 15 million tons of oil annually, which accounts for half of the regional total. Tatarstan’s oil sites became a testing ground for new technologies in the fields of surveying, drilling wells and oil extraction. The experience of Tatarstan has found global recognition. Circle waterflooding was used here for the first time in the world, providing an example of developing a large deposit rationally. The creators of the method, a large group of scientists and Tatneft employees, were awarded the 1962 Lenin Prize.

Leninogorsky rayon continues to be one of the centers of Tatarstan’s oil industry. It has all the conditions required for active modern life and the development of youth. In 2007 the achievements of the city brought it the award of "most comfortable location in Tatarstan."

The rayon honors the memory of the heroes of the World War II.  A street in the city of Leninogorsk was named after one of them - Gazinur Gafiatullin. There is also an exhibition at the local museum devoted to his life. Gazinur was born in the village of Sugushla in Leninogorsky rayon.

NB At the end of the 19th century, a Bugulma landowner Ya. Malakienko and his sons drilled the first two wells and managed to extract the first 80 buckets of oil. A few years after, an American named Laszlo Sandor volunteered to do the drilling, but his business never reached industrial capacity.

On January 4, 1944 he died in battle near the village of Ovsishchi in Velikiye Luki rayon, Pskovskaya Oblast. Like the famous Alexander Matrosov, he threw himself onto a German pill-box. Gazinur Gafiatullovich was posthumously awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. Famous Tatar writer G. Absalyamov fictionalized his life into a novel, "Gazinur."

Leninogorsk is the home of the only Oil Museum in the world. At its doors, visitors can see a wooden replica of an old pump-jack.

Leninogorsk is a city of students. A Petroleum College, a Teachers College and two technical schools provide vocational training to everyone interested. The city’s residents are active in sports. Two ski jumps, a sports center, two indoor pools, an ice arena and an indoor track-and-field facility are all open around the year. Leninogorsk can be proud of its Olympic gold medalists, including Nikolai Petrushin, the native of the city, who won the ski jumping competition at the Winter Olympics in Nagano (Japan, 1998). The Neftyanik Hockey Club did very well in the Higher Hockey League.