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History

The history of the region dates back to the ancient times. According to various historical sources, the settlement of the Verkhnedvinsk region started during the Mesolithic period. First the territory was inhabited by the Baltic tribes and the Osveya region – by the Ugro-Finnic ethnic group, assimilated this millennium by the Slaves – the Krivichis. Besides, the names of many settlements, rivers and lakes testify to the fact of the assimilation.

In the Middle Ages these lands were part of the Polotsk Duchy and the Great Duchy of Lithuania. They saw many wars resulted in massive destruction.

Fierce battles between the Russian warriors and crusaders and other foreign invaders took place on this land.

During the 1812 Patriotic War the headquarters of the first Russian army led by Barclay de Tolly was located on the territory of the camp set up near the town of Drissa. Besides, the camp occupied the area of about 14 square kilometres. These events were described by Lev Tolstoy in his novel War and Peace.

It was the Verkhnedvinsk land where Napoleon’s troops first saw the power and glory of the Russian armoury. General Kulnev – a famous pupil of great Suvorov and a hero of the 1812 war – fell there.

Further history of the Verkhnedvinsk region is closely connected with the history of the whole Belarus and since 1917 – with the history of the Soviet country. The Verkhnedvinsk land saw the rebellions of 1831 and 1863, revolutions of 1905 and 1917.

The Great Patriotic War is a special page of the Verkhnedvinsk region history. The Nazi occupation lasted 1110 days. All these days were filled with furious fight against the Nazis. In those times 15 thousand residents of the region were members of partisan parties; more than 3,5 thousand – served in the regular army. Unfadable acts of courage were committed by natives of the region – Heroes of the Soviet Union I.K. Zakharov, I.A. Makaeenok, I.M. Kobzun, M.M. Myadel, E.V. Lavrinovich, S.A. Zabogonsky, A.M. Burak, N.V. Troyan. Piotr Masherov started his military carrier in the Osveya-Rossony partisan zone.

The Mound of Friendship was erected in the northern part of the region, at the junction of three now independent and earlier former Soviet Union republics – Latvia, Belarus and Russia. The mound symbolises close international unity of the Russians, Belarusians and Letts, who jointly struggled against the Nazis. Every year, on the first Sunday of July, veterans, young people and residents of the border regions gather there to pay tribute to the memory of the fallen and to remember the heroic pages of that war. On this day flowers are laid at the memorial to Heroes of the Soviet Union – Lett Imant Sudmalis, brave Russian partisan Maria Pynto and members of the Proshkovo underground international Komsomol organisation in Belarus.

Verkhnedvinsk, which was called Drissa till 1962, was first mentioned in the chronicles in 1386. In July 2002 the Government approved a coat of arms of Verkhnedvinsk, which was based on the historical coat of arms of Drissa confirmed by Yekaterina the Great in 1781. In 2006 Verkhnedvinsk celebrated its 620th anniversary. The settlement of Osveya located on the bank of the famous lake is ancient as well. In 2003 Osveya turned 500. By the jubilee the local authorities designed a coat of arms and a flag for Osveya, which are based on the family coat of arms of the former Osveya owner – Y. Gilzen.