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Minsk (population 1.7 million) is the capital of Belarus and headquarters of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Legend say that a giant called Menesk or Mincz had a mill on the banks of a river nearby the city. He used to grind stones for making bread in order to feed his warriors. More factual history say Minsk come from the word miena ("barter" in English) because of the city's long commercial history.

By the 10th century, Prince Ravhalod[?] (Ragnvald in Norse), of Viking origin, ruled a principality named Polacak, which included Minsk. The first recorded mention of Minsk dates from 1066, related to dynastic wars between Polacak and Kiev principalities.

Later, Minsk fell under the influence of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a state that later formed a union with the Kingdom of Poland.

In 1655 Minsk was conquered by Tsar Alexei[?] of Russia. It was liberated by Jan Kasimir[?], king of Poland (1648-1668), and again annexed by Russia in 1773.

French Emperor Napoleon conquered the city in 1812. The locals gave him strong support and celebrated the liberation of the city from Russian rule. After a very short Napoleonic rule, Minsk was again subdued by Russia, later to become USSR.

Under the communist regime, Minsk become capital of the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic[?]. Since 1991 the city has been the capital of the independent Belarus state. It is known as Mensk in the Belarusian language.

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