Kirovohrad (Ukrainian: , Russian: , Kirovograd), formerly Yelisavetgrad, is a city in central Ukraine located on the Inhul river, and is the administrative center of the Kirovohrad Oblast.
The city is famous for its former Elvoroti brothers factory (today Chervona Zirka). It is also the birthplace of noted figures such as Grigory Zinoviev, Volodymyr Vynnychenko, Arseny Tarkovsky, African Spir and others.
Developed around a military settlement, the city rose to prominence in the 19th century when it became an important trade centre, as well as a Ukrainian cultural leader with the first professional theatrical company in either Central or Eastern Ukraine being established here in 1882.
The history of the city foundation dates back to the year 1754 when St. Elizabeth’s fortress was built on the lands of former Zaporizka Sich in the upper course of the Inhul, Suhokleya and Biyanka Rivers. The historic name of the city Yelysavethrad was changed to Zinovyevsk in 1924, for Kirovo in 1934. The city was renamed Kirovohrad on the 10th of January, 1939.
The history of Kirovohrad starts from that of Fort St. Elizabeth. This fort was built in 1754 by the order of empress Elizabeth of Russia and it played a pivotal role in the new lands added to Russia by the Belgrad Peace Treaty of 1739. In 1764 the settlement received status of the center of the Elizabeth province, and in 1784 the status of chief town of a district, when it was renamed after the fort as Yelizavetgrad.
Fort St. Elizabeth was located on the crossroads of trade routes, and it eventually became a major trade center. The city has held regular fairs four times a year. Merchants from all over the Russian Empire have visited these fairs. Also, there were numerous foreign merchants, especially from Greece.
On April 27, 1881, there was a pogrom against the Jewish citizens of Elisavetgrad. A religious dispute at an inn sparked off the riot. Jewish shops and warehouses were systematically destroyed. The Jewish citizens tried to protect their businesses, but this only led to more outrage. Soldiers joined in the rioting rather than trying to stop it. After two days of attacks, many were killed, 500 houses and 100 shops were demolished and approximately 2,000,000 rubles worth of property was stolen or destroyed.
Elizabethgrad was ravaged by famine in 1901 and its residents suffered more due to poor government response. The region is extremely fertile. However, a drought in 1892 and poor farming methods which never allowed the soil to recover, prompted a large famine that plagued the region. According to a 1901 New York Times article, the Ministry of the Interior denied that the persistence of famine in the region and blocked non-State charities from bringing aid to the area. The reporter wrote, "The existence of famine was inconvenient at a time when negotiations were pending for foreign loans." The Governor of the Kherson region, Prince Oblonsky, refused to acknowledge this famine. One non-resident and non-State worker entered Elizabethgrad and could provided the New York Times with an eye-witness account. He observed: general and acute destitution; deaths from starvation; widespread typhus (shows poverty), and little to no work to be found in the region.
In 1905 another riot flared, with Christians killing Jews and plundering the Jewish quarter. A contemporary account was reported in the New York Times on December 13, 1905.
The first theatre in Ukraine was built in Kirovohrad. It was founded by M. Kropyvnytsky, I. Karpenko-Karyy, M. Zankovetska, P. Saksahansky and M. Sadovsky.
During Soviet rule, the city economy was dominated by such enterprises as Chervona Zirka Agricultural Machinery Plant (which once provided more than 50% of the USSR need in tractor seeders), Hydrosila Hydraulic Units Plant, Radiy Radio Component Plant, Pishmash Typewriter Plant (de facto defunct nowadays) and others.
In World War II Kirovograd was occupied by Nazi Germany from 5 August 1941. It was liberated by Soviet forces on 8 January 1944.
During the Ukrainian presidential election of 2004, the city got the country-wide notoriety because of mass election fraud committed by local authorities. It became known as District 100 (the community number according to Central Elections Committee).