Bryansk (brēänskˈ) [key], city (1989 pop. 452,000), capital of Bryansk region, central European Russia, on the Desna River. The city is a rail transportation hub, and it forms an important industrial district with nearby Bezhitsa, with which it was incorporated in 1956. There are ironworks and locomotive, machine, and cement plants. Bryansk is also a major distribution center for natural gas. Originally called Brinyu and later Debryansk, the city was first known in 1146. For a time it was the capital of a principality. Bryansk later passed to Lithuania and in the 16th cent. was annexed by Muscovy. It served as a fortress until the 19th cent. Soil in the Bryansk region was contaminated by radioactive fallout from the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power station.