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Izhevsk (Russian: Иже́вск) is the capital city of the Udmurt Republic of Russia, situated on the Izh River in the Western Urals. From 1984 to 1987 Izhevsk carried the name Ustinov in honor of the Minister of Defense of the USSR, Marshal of the Soviet Union, Dmitry Ustinov. The city is an important industrial center, and is the economic, industrial and administrative hub of the republic. Izhevsk is especially noted for its military industry, with Russia's biggest munitions manufacturer, Izhmash, builder of the AK-47 being based in the city.
Izhevsk was founded in 1760 as a settlement surrounding a newly built ironworks. The ironworks and the town were built by Count Peter Shuvalov as a private venture and passed to the crown after his death in lieu of his debt to the treasury. The location was selected to better accommodate a dam on the river Izh, which was completed in 1763. In 1774, the town was taken by Pugachev's rebel army, which executed the administrative staff of the ironworks and looted the factory. In 1807, Alexander I ordered the construction of a munitions factory in place of the ironworks. The newly established plant came to dominated the economy of the town. In 1865 the plant passed into private ownership by a group of investors which included Ludwig Nobel. In 1884 the factory returned to government control. On March 5, 1917, workers at the plant formed a worker's soviet, which included representatives of the workers, the army, and of other citizens. Two days later the factory administration resigned and was replaced with elected officials. By the middle of September of the same year, Bolsheviks came to control both the council and the council's influential newspaper.
On October 27, 1917, Soviet government was officially announced, with the council officially dissolved soon thereafter.
The former leaders of the council were arrested June 1918, contributing to the beginning of an uprising against Bolshevik rule. The struggle for control of the city continued until the arrival of the Red Army, which took Izhevsk on November 7. On April 13, 1919 the city was occupied by units of Admiral Kolchak's White Army, only to fall again, this time decisively, to another assault by the Red Army in June 8 of the same year.
The Soviet period saw significant growth in the size and importance of Izhevsk. In 1921, the city became the administrative center of Votsk Autonomous Oblast, a precursor to the Udmurt Republic.
The first tramway lines were opened in 1935, and the now emblematic City Circus was founded in 1943.
World War II had a profound effect on the city, with much of the industrial infrastructure evacuated from the western regions of the Soviet Union, being relocated to the city. Elements of the evacuated enterprises were used to create the Izhevsk Mechanical Plant, which remains an important manufacturer of military components.
Military industry remained the core of the local economy after the war, leading to Izhvesk being designated a closed city, inaccessible to foreigners. The city's Izhmash factory began manufacturing the AK-47 automatic rifle in 1948, and continues to produce modern variants of the design to this day. The rifle's designer, Mikhail Kalashnikov still lives in Izhevsk. In 1966 Izhmash began manufacturing the Izh automobiles.
In 1984, the city was renamed Ustinov; in honor of former minister of defense Dmitry Ustinov. Three years later, in spite of vocal protests by a significant number of citizens, Izhevsk regained its historical name.
Izhevsk weathered the turbulent post-soviet years reasonably well, carried through by the continued demand for its military production. The city remains an important industrial and military center of the country, being referred to as the Armory of Russia - a title it shares with the city of Tula.
Izhevsk is the most important economic center of the Udmurt Republic, with the majority of financial and industrial activity concentrated in the city. Military industry remains the backbone of the local economy, with a number of enterprises operating in the city. By far the most important of these is Izhmash which produces small arms, and assault rifles popular both in Russia and abroad. The plant also produces motorcycles and automobiles under IZH brandname. In 2006, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez visited Izhevsk to tour the Izhmash manufacturing center where he announced his government's intention to purchase a large number of Izhevsk-produced rifles.