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Definition of SMOLENSK
city W Russia in Europe on the upper Dnieper WSW of Moscow pop 352,000
geographical name(Concise Encyclopedia)
City (pop., 2006 est.: 317,915), western Russia. One of the oldest and most historic of Russian cities, it was a key stronghold on the Dnieper River by the 9th century and became a commercial centre on the trade route between the Baltic Sea and the Byzantine Empire. Sacked by the Tatarsc. 1240, it subsequently fell to Lithuania. Sieges led to its capture by Moscow in 1340 and recapture by Lithuania in 1408. It was fought over several times, then was finally taken by Russia in 1654. It was burned during Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812. The scene of heavy fighting in World War II, it was occupied by the Germans from 1941 to 1943. It is a light-industry and educational centre.