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Kaliningrad Oblast


Kaliningrad Oblast (Russian: Калининградская область), informally called Yantarny kray (Russian:Янтарный Край - meaning Amber land) is an administrative division (oblast) of Russia on the Baltic coast, with no land connection to the rest of Russia: an exclave. It is the westernmost parcel of land belonging to Russia. Its largest city is Kaliningrad (formerly Königsberg), which has considerable historical significance as the capital city of Prussia, of which the region remains the core remnant. Since 1991 about 12,000 ethnic Germans have attempted to settle in the Kaliningrad oblast, but have mostly re-emigrated to Germany after just a few months. As of 2003, just 0.2% of the oblast's population are ethnic Germans. On 1 May 2004 a "paper curtain" descended around Kaliningrad Oblast as its neighbours on all side joined the European Union resulting in increased restrictions in crossing the border. Kaliningraders, like all citizens of Russia, now need visas to enter the neighbouring countries of Poland and Lithuania. If they wish to travel to the rest of Russia over land without a visa, they need to apply for permission from the Lithuanian embassy at least a day in advance before being allowed to board a sealed train to Russia.


Administrative Division


Kaliningrad Oblast consists of the following districts (Russian: районы):

  • Bagrationovsky (Багратионовский)
  • Chernyakhovsky (Черняховский)
  • Guryevsky (Гурьевский)
  • Gusevsky (Гусевский)
  • Gvardeysky (Гвардейский)
  • Krasnoznamensky (Краснознаменский)
  • Nemansky (Неманский)
  • Nesterovsky (Нестеровский)
  • Ozersky (Озерский)
  • Polessky (Полесский)
  • Pravdinsky (Правдинский)
  • Slavsky (Славский)
  • Zelenogradsky (Зеленоградский)

Cities and towns

Main article: List of cities of Kaliningrad Oblast

The territory also includes the following towns (old names in italics):

  • Baltiysk (Pillau, Piliava)
  • Gvardeisk (Tapiau, Tepliava)
  • Znamensk (Welawa, Veluva, Wehlau)
  • Slavsk (Jedrzychowo, Heinrichswalde, Gastos)
  • Chernyakhovsk (Wystruc, Isrutis, Insterburg)
  • Gusev (Gabin, Gumbine, Gumbinnen)
  • Sovetsk (Tylza, Tilsit)
  • Mamonovo (Swieta Siekierka, Sventapilis, Heiligenbeil)
  • Bagrationovsk (Ilawka, Prusu Yluva, Preussich Eylau)
  • Druzhba (Alembork, Alna, Allenburg)
  • Zheleznodorozhny (Gierdawy, Girdava , Gerdauen)
  • Primorsk (Rybaki, Fischhausen, Zuvininkai)
  • Ozyorsk (Darkiejmy, Darkehmen, Angerapp)
  • Krasnolesye (Rominty, Raminta, Gross Rominten)
  • Yasnaya Polyana (Trakehnen, Trakenai)
  • Krasnoznamensk (Lasdehen, Haselberg, Lazdenai)
  • Kalinino (Mehlkehmen, Birkenmuehle, Mielkiemis)
  • Chekhovo (Uderwangen, Udravangis)
  • Dobrovolsk (Pilkalnis, Pillkallen)
  • Kamenskoe (Saalau, Zelva)
  • Krylovo (Nordenburg, Asvenai)
  • Mayovka (Georgenburg, Sparge, Jurbarkas)
  • Neman (Ragnit, Ragane)
  • Nesterov (Stallupoenen, Stalupenai)
  • Polessk (Labiau, Labguva)
  • Pravdinsk (Friedland, Romuva)
  • Ushakovo (Brandenburg)


Before 1945, what is now Kaliningrad Oblast made up the northern part of East Prussia from the Baltic Sea to the east up to Lithuania and north of today's Poland. In 1992 Russian President Boris Yeltsin expressed his opinion that the oblast should be given to Poland (as was planned at the Yalta Conference in 1945 - originally the Germans were to keep Stettin while the Poles were to get Königsberg). However, when Poland asked for NATO accession, the offer was dropped. In 2004 the oblast became an enclave in another sense, being surrounded by members of the European Union and NATO.

The area around the city of Kaliningrad was completely sealed off for fifty years because the Soviet Union had built huge military installations there and used the harbor as a year round port—it was one of the few Soviet ports on the Baltic which was operable in winter-time. With the fall of the Iron Curtain, the enormousness of the installations and the sheer magnitude of the environmental destruction has been exposed.

In the days before the Iron Curtain came down, US television showed news reports from the Soviet Union. These reporters filmed a vast area of land filled with military equipment around the harbor of Kaliningrad. They showed the train depot and the dozens of trains that were sitting there, idled for weeks or months, filled with materials, all spoiled. It was a scene of earlier massive Soviet Union military build-up and now the scene of total massive breakdown. These surrealistic visions stand in stark contrast to the vanished city of Königsberg, the city of Immanuel Kant and the city of kings. As the Russian reporters intended, this showed the real state of the Soviet Union, at that time by the CIA still portrayed as a mighty enemy of the USA.

The contamination of the soil by military occupation is another matter. In the case of the Soviet Union military occupation of the other part of Germany, the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the costs of environmental cleanup so far run into many billions of German Marks or dollars. Similar environmental cleanup is necessary around Kaliningrad.

External links

  • Official site
  • Recent photos taken by Joost Lemmens of Netherlands gives samples of destruction in small towns by neglect under the Soviet Union around Kaliningrad Oblast. This site gives the Prussian German town names and the corresponding Russian names after 1945/49. It starts out with a gate to the horse breeding stables in Trakehnen and hopeful signs of new beginnings for this devastated land.

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45