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Sergei Kirov Assasination - History

Sergei Kirov Assasination - History

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On December 1, 1934 Sergei Kirov, a close associate of Stalin, was assassinated . This prompted Stalin to institute another great purge. In the previous year, Stalin had purged the Communist Party of close to 1,000,000 members. This time, many of the older leaders of the party, such as Zinoviev and Kamenev, were arrested and tried for treason. Before the purges ended, close to 8 million people were killed, imprisoned or sent to Siberia.

During 1934 it seemed that the Soviet Union was normalizing, with the secret police being a little less invasive and rumors of a pardon for opponents of the regime widespread. Culturally Soviet youth began to adopt European methods of dress. The Soviet Union even joined the League of Nations.

All of this came to a sudden halt on December 1 when Sergei Kirov, a member of the Politburo who was responsible for heavy industry, was assassinated in Leningrad. Stalin immediately left for Leningrad. On arrival, he publicly slapped the waiting head of NKVD. The murder of Kirov was said to have been carried out by Leonid Nikolaev, and the government claimed that he was part of a Trotskyite-Zinovieite terror organization. Nikolaev was quickly shot, and almost everyone who was around suddenly died or disappeared. To this day, Kirov's assassination's actual circumstances are unclear, but many suspect that Stalin was behind it.

Stalin made use of the event to crack down on all forms of dissent. Before he left Moscow for Leningrad, he issued a decree that;

  1. Ordered all those investigating potential terror attacks to expedite their investigations
  2. courts should not delay the execution of those convicted of terror acts
  3. The Internal Affairs Ministry should carry out the death sentences immediately,

Arrests and executions became widespread. Of the 1,225 Communist delegates to the 17th Party Congress in 1934, 1108 were arrested within a year. Of the 139 candidate members to the Central Committee, 98 were arrested and shot.

The arrests and executions gathered more steam in 1935. Taking Stalins orders seriously, three people, two women, and a man, were arrested for asking questions about Kirov's death on March 9. They were executed on the 10th, and the next day the 11th, Stalin was notified. Tens of thousands of relatives of those accused were sent to work camps in the far east, known as the Gulags. Stalin even issued a decree that children as young as 12 should be executed for crimes against the state.

The Russian Orthodox Church became a new target of the assault by Stalin. Everywhere churches that were hundreds of years old were demolished.


Sergei (or Sergey) Kirov was a prominent member within the Party until his death (by assassination (see next post) in 1934).

Kirov was a part of the 1905 revolution against the Tsar (as he followed the path of Marxism) and the 1917 revolution where the Tsar was removed from power. After the revolution, Kirov was a military commander for the Red Army in the North Caucasus during the Russian Civil War.

After the civil war, Kirov became a keen political figure. He became the secretary in the party in Azerbaijan in 1921 until he was chosen by Stalin, in 1926, to take control over Zinoviev’s former post as the head of the Party Organisation. He was also awarded a position in the Politburo in 1930.

Kirov gradually rose within the ranks and became a popular member of the Party. However, with popularity also comes power which Stalin did not approve of. With this power, Kirov became a threat to Stalin despite him (Kirov) still being a loyal supporter. Others believed that he was being groomed to take the position Stalin had (which clearly wasn’t the case).

Sergei’s death is seen to be the beginning of the Great Purge, something which Stalin initiated to remove all of the threats to his power.

History Topic 17 - (1.?) - Kirov's murder

- not noticing his usual guards were absent from the corridors.

3. The assassin waited in a nearby toilet, and shot Kirov

- in the back of the neck as he passed him in the corridors.

- relating to Nikolayev, who he was and the sort of person he was,

2. He was expelled from the Party in 1936 for a breach of discipline but was later reinstated.

3. He developed a hatred of the party of the levels

- as he felt that they had not given him the recognition he deserved.

4. He was married to Milde Praude

- who was party HQ secretary, and may have been having an affair with Kirov.

5. A Russian statement disclosed his assassination of Kirov

- was an act of desperation, caused by

" strained marital circumstances" and a protest against government

(Although we don't know if this was actually the case or whether or not it was Stalin)

- describe what happened before the murder that puts Stalin's involvement under suspicion.

- + more had voted for him than Stalin.

2. He had recently opposed Stalin over the pace of industrialisation and the Ryutin affair,

- falling out with him by the summer 1934.

3. He also wanted the terror to be relaxed and peasantry re-conciliated

4. Before the murder, Nikolayev had twice been arrested in Kirovs neighbourhood

- and both times had been released on the orders of the deputy head of the NKVD

5. It alleged that an NKVD man earlier as a friend of Nikolayev

- describe what happened after the murder, in the short term

2. When asked why he had murdered Kirov,

- Nikolayev pointed towards NKVD men, saying Stalin should ask them that.

3. The key witness was going to be Borishov, Kirov's bodyguard,

- but on the way to being questioned, in a truck with several NKVD men,

- there was an accident in which he was killed and no one else was hurt,

(the NKVD men were killed later)

4. Shortly after, the great purchase began, with the first arrests being made

- on Stalin's instructions, and thousands in the Leningrad party being purged.

5. The leading Leningrad NKVD men were accused of neglect for not protecting Kirov,

- and were sentenced to labour camps but given short sentences,

- and privileged treatment, including gifts

(Though they were killed later in the 1930s)

6. Over 100 party members were initially shot

- describe what happened after the murder, in the long term

- accused of causing terrorism,

- and sentenced to between five and 10 years of imprisonment

2. In June 1935, the death-penalty was extended from applying

- to those engaged in subversive activity

- may have wanted Kirov's murder.

- with several members of the Politburo wanting a slower pace of industrialisation

- and an easing of grain requisition

2. This followed serious economic problems since 1932,

- including protests over low wages and long working hours, with famine also killing millions

3. Sergei Kirov, Who had previously been one of Stalin's closest allies,

- now sided with those opposing him

4. Stalin's position of General Secretary was abolished,

- and Stalin, Kirov, Zhadanov and Kaganovich

(This may have happened with Stalin's approval

2. He was the leader of the Leningrad party and had a strong power base,

- who wanted to maintain the pace of industrialisation,

- and the others within the Politburo,

- may have been indirectly involved in Kirov's murder

- who wanted to maintain the pace of industrialisation,

- and the others within the Politburo,

- who spoke about stopping forcible grain seizures and increasing workers rations

2. This followed serious economic problems since 1932,

- including protests over low wages and long working hours, with famine also killing millions

3. Sergei Kirov, Who had previously been one of Stalin's closest allies,

- now sided with those opposing him

4. Kirov was also the leader of the Leningrad party and had a strong power base there,

- his popularity was a threat to Stalin

5. Stalin's position as General Secretary was abolished

- and Stalin, Kirov, Zhdanov and Kaganovich were all made "secretaries of equal rank"

(this may have happened with Stalin's approval

- as a way to share around the blame for the USSR's problems

- was such a challenge and so detrimental to Stalin

- who wanted to maintain the pace of industrialisation,

- and the others within the Politburo,

- who spoke about stopping forcible grain seizures and increasing workers rations

2. This followed serious economic problems since 1932,

- including protests over low wages and long working hours, with famine also killing millions

3. Sergei Kirov, who had previously been one of Stalin's closest allies,

- now sided with those opposing him

4. Kirov was also the leader of the Leningrad party and had a strong power base there,

- his popularity was a threat to Stalin

5. Stalin's position as General Secretary was abolished

- and Stalin, Kirov, Zhdanov and Kaganovich were all made "secretaries of equal rank"

(this may have happened with Stalin's approval

- as a way to share around the blame for the USSR's problems

- who wanted to maintain the pace of industrialisation,

- and the others within the Politburo,

- who spoke about stopping forcible grain seizures and increasing workers rations

2. This followed serious economic problems since 1932,

- including protests over low wages and long working hours, with famine also killing millions

3. Sergei Kirov, who had previously been one of Stalin's closest allies,

- now sided with those opposing him

4. Kirov was also the leader of the Leningrad party and had a strong power base there,

- his popularity was a threat to Stalin

5. Stalin's position as General Secretary was abolished

- and Stalin, Kirov, Zhdanov and Kaganovich were all made "secretaries of equal rank"

The Mystery of the Kirov Assassination

Eighty years ago today, on December 1, 1934, a fellow named Leonid Nikolayev shot beloved Leningrad party chief Sergei Kirov, setting off the Great Terror. But not all is clear in this incident. In Charon&rsquos Chronicles, Russian writer Alexander Lavrin investigates the murky background of Kirov&rsquos death.

There exist four theories as to why Kirov was killed.

  1. Nikolayev had a personal vendetta against Kirov.
  2. Stalin either ordered or knew of the assassination.
  3. It was a terrorist plot organized by Trotsky through the employees of foreign diplomatic missions.
  4. The assassination was planned by the opposition within the USSR.

The third and fourth points have as few supporters as they have pieces of evidence. So I will elaborate only on the first two. Let us examine the historical evidence.

In the first rounds of interrogation, Nikolayev claimed that he wanted to get revenge on Kirov for allegedly &ldquodestroying his honor and destabilizing his life.&rdquo Indeed, since April Nikolayev had not had a job anywhere, and had changed jobs 11 times in the previous 15 years. He had been a minor bureaucrat in Party and Komsomol branches, and his last position was in the Party archives. The regional office in Vyborg had offered him some minor positions, but they did not appeal to him. There is evidence of Nikolayev &ldquocatching&rdquo Kirov on two occasions, when the latter was getting into his car, looking to complain to him about his situation. Could Nikolayev have come to hate the entire world so much as to choose Kirov as a target for revenge? A possibility. But although he could have made the choice himself, he could also have listened to a tip from someone else. Note that after his arrest Nikolayev demanded to see Stalin. Had he, perhaps, wanted to explain that the assassination had not been his idea, and hoped for lenience, if not a miracle?

When in 1990-1991 the Soviet press debated the mystery of Kirov&rsquos death, an interesting pattern emerged: all the supporters of the &ldquolone gunman&rdquo theory were conservative Party officials. So what were their arguments?

  1. In response to journalist Georgy Tselms&rsquos question, &ldquoSo could Nikolayev have killed Kirov on his own initiative?&rdquo one of the officials answered, &ldquoSure he could! You know the kind of guy he was? A pipsqueak with a chip on his shoulder. And he&rsquod just been fired. If they hadn&rsquot fired him, maybe nothing would&rsquove happened&hellip&rdquo
  2. Stalin could not have ordered Kirov&rsquos assassination because the two were close friends.
  3. The death of Borisov, Kirov&rsquos bodyguard (who died on his way to interrogation), was just an accident, caused by a defect in his car.

And from a legal standpoint, supporters of the &ldquolone gunman&rdquo theory have the more stable position, because in December 1990 a plenary session of the USSR Supreme Court ruled that &ldquothe terrorist act targeting S. M. Kirov was planned and carried out by Nikolayev alone.&rdquo

But let&rsquos hear the arguments for the second theory. [&hellip] In his memoirs, Nikita Khruschev writes: &ldquoFirst of all, we found out that not long before Kirov&rsquos assassination Nikolaev had been apprehended near Smolny, where Kirov worked. He had appeared suspicious to the guards, and was searched. They found a gun on him (in his bag). At the time, the stance on guns was strict, but despite that, and despite the fact that he had been stopped in a high-security area, Nikolayev was immediately released.&rdquo

Sergei Kirov Assasination - History

On this day in history (in 1934), the man who was considered next in line from Joseph Stalin was shot in the neck while attending his offices in Leningrad (then Saint Petersburg). His death, and the subsequent show trial, became the excuse for Stalin to purge the Communist Party in Russia of any rivals. Stalin may also have been the reason for Kirov’s death, although that has never been proven.

No one knows what time Sergei Kirov was born, and I experimented with different birth times, before settling on 7:00 am, for no other reason than the (popular) Neptune conjunct his Ascendant in Taurus. There are two inconjuncts: Moon and Pluto and the Sun and Mars. This combination would make him a threat to Stalin.

I’ve highlighted this photo before. In the end, Kirov was airbrushed out of history. So, the question is: did Stalin instigate his assassination?

There are two Fingers of God (Yods) and one inconjunct here that it seems that at least three reasons for the assassination are being highlighted.

Kirov’s natal Mercury is being pointed to by his ‘fatal’ Mercury and Mars his natal Venus is being pointed to by his ‘fatal’ Mars and Pluto and his ‘natal’ Jupiter is inconjunct his ‘fatal’ Uranus, while being conjunct to his ‘fatal’ Moon. This ‘feels’ like a popular politician was ‘sacrificed’, to secure power for the man at the top.

I guess it doesn’t pay to be too close to political power, does it?

Who Murdered Sergei Kirov? : 5 Decades Later, Death of Stalin Stalwart Figures in 3 Books--and in Kremlin Politics

Sergei Kirov never had the cabbage dumplings he asked his wife to make for dinner that December night.

Instead, the Communist Party chief of Leningrad was assassinated before he could go home to a late supper, thus becoming a historical conundrum that haunts today’s brave new world of glasnost and perestroika in the Soviet Union.

Now, almost 54 years after he was gunned down in suspicious circumstances at the city’s party headquarters, Kirov is a particularly compelling ghost. His murder is the subject or key element of three books due out over the next few months in this country.

The two novels and one historical account will be appearing here just as the question of who killed Kirov is being acrimoniously debated in the Soviet Union, where the past is once again up for an official rewrite.

All three books examine the bloody legacy of Kirov’s demise--the “Great Terror” launched by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in the 1930s to secure absolute power through a ruthless purge of potential rivals. Ultimately, the paranoia unleashed by Kirov’s death swept through all levels of Soviet society and may have claimed as many as 10 million victims.

Of the three books, the biggest splash is likely to be made by “Children of the Arbat,” a 685-page novel being released in translation here by Little, Brown next month. “Children,” serialized in the Soviet Union last year and now appearing there in book form, is the long-suppressed work of 77-year-old Anatoli Rybakov, who was imprisoned under Stalin and who insisted that the novel appear in the Soviet Union before being published abroad.

The novel was a sensation in the Soviet Union because of its look into the years of terror--and Rybakov’s innovative portrayal of Stalin through the pock-marked dictator’s own eyes. In one internal monologue in “Children of the Arbat” Stalin muses, “It is not for Russia to reject the role of the individual in history. Russia is used to having a czar, a grand prince, an emperor or a supreme leader, whatever he is called.”

One of the Soviet Union’s most famous writers, poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, has hailed “Children of the Arbat” as “one of the most daring steps of glasnost " and as a “geological cross section of terra incognita.” The book is also considered as perhaps the most important novel by a Soviet writer since “Doctor Zhivago” by Boris Pasternak.

“Reading ‘Children of the Arbat’ is like seeing inside the Forbidden City,” said Little, Brown publisher Roger Donald, “because, like Pasternak’s novel, it contains a Russian’s own view of life under Stalin.” Donald, who paid $100,000 for U.S. publication rights, added that his firm has ordered a relatively big first printing of 125,000 copies of the novel because of public interest here in the dramatic changes taking place in the Soviet Union.

At the time of his death, Kirov was a rising star in Soviet politics, viewed by some as the only man who could oust an increasingly unpopular Stalin. Kirov had opposed some early maneuvers by Stalin to eliminate political opponents. By at least one account, the last year of Kirov’s life was marked by increasing acrimony toward Kirov from a jealous and wary Stalin.

Although accounts of and suspicions about the assassination of Kirov vary, there is general agreement that Kirov died instantly from one gunshot wound to the back of the head. He was murdered in the late afternoon of Dec. 1, 1934 in the Smolny Institute, a normally heavily guarded former girls school converted to the headquarters of the Communist Party in Leningrad. The shot was fired by Leonid Nikolaev, an unsuccessful party member and job-seeker.

In the wake of the murder Stalin took a train to Leningrad and personally began an investigation in which, some contend, nearly all those with some knowledge about the killing were executed or sent to die in prison camps to cover up Stalin’s complicity. Within weeks of the murder Stalin had used Kirov’s death as a pretext for arresting other high party officials, who were made to confess to conspiracies later aired in carefully contrived show trials.

Kirov’s slaying “remains one of the crucial issues in Soviet history and one which I think still can have tremendous political consequences, whatever the final interpretation is,” said Harvard University Russian history specialist Adam B. Ulam, whose novel “The Kirov Affair” will be published next month.

Historian Robert Conquest of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, whose factual examination of Kirov’s death--"Stalin and the Kirov Murder"--will be published this fall by Oxford University Press, sees the argument over the murder as a proxy debate over Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s more liberal social and economic policies.

“You can’t fight on perestroika (economic restructuring) but you can fight on Stalinism,” Conquest said. “History is now the key to the political struggle.”

British historian Paul Johnson, who has written about that era in his book “Modern Times” and who keeps an eye on developments in the Soviet Union, said the Kirov murder “was the great watershed at which the regime, which had always been violent, toppled over into mass murder.”

Many Western historians believe that Kirov died as the result of a plot masterminded by Stalin, who feared that Kirov’s popularity in and out of the party threatened him politically. During interrogation, the actual triggerman is said to have pointed to security men participating in the investigation of the murder as the ones who “made me do it.” Nikolaev reportedly was pistol-whipped unconscious for this statement--made in Stalin’s presence--by the very men he had accused. He was later executed after a secret trial.

However, in the Soviet Union official responsibility for the murder still lies with Nikolaev, who allegedly was part of a conspiracy to overthrow Stalin.

Under Gorbachev, Stalin’s reputation has undergone a steep devaluation. In a major speech last November, Gorbachev called for a major re-examination of Soviet history in the 1920s and 1930s.

“It is essential to assess the past with a sense of historical responsibility and on the basis of historical truth,” the Soviet leader said then. Gorbachev went on to denounce “real crimes stemming from an abuse of power” by Stalin. But he also credited Stalin with “incontestable contribution to the struggle for socialism” and stopped short of a blanket condemnation of the dictator, who died in 1953.

Harvard’s Ulam, author of a widely respected biography of Stalin as well as the new novel, believes the current Soviet government is treading close to a political cliff on the issue of Stalin’s crimes.

“The point is that up to now in the critique of Stalin, the regime always has been talking out of both sides of its mouth,” Ulam has stated. “It’s very difficult for them to maintain this sort of dichotomy about Stalin with Gorbachev saying, ‘Well, he was a man who’s done all sorts of criminal things. At the same time he saved us during the war (World War II) and also Stalin was the prime agent of industrialization of the Soviet Union.’ ”

In fact, Ulam believes the current position on Stalin is untenable. “It’s like saying Hitler built the Autobahn and told people to become part of the cult of physical exercise and fitness,” he asserted. “The regime is really--I won’t say tottering on the brink of destruction--but tottering on the brink of self-repudiation about this whole business with Stalin.”

Ulam believes that Soviet “liberation from the horrors of the past cannot come until the regime is courageous enough to say not only criminal things happened (under Stalin) but also absolutely absurd things.”

But he acknowledged that there are risks in telling the truth. An honest history of the Stalin period “would certainly increase enormously the psychological danger of people--not ceasing to believe in communism because most people don’t care about that--but people seeing the regime as something preposterous and ridiculous and asking themselves, ‘Why should we have it in the first place?’ ”

Interestingly, Ulam is one Western historian who has not placed the blame for Kirov’s death on Stalin. In his 1973 biography of the dictator “I indicate that probably it was a case of assassination by Nikolaev and that we really don’t have enough evidence, except from rather biased sources, that it was done by Stalin,” he said.

Nonetheless, Ulam said that “the presumption has to remain that quite possibly Stalin licensed, in a very involved way, the killing of Kirov.” And, without giving away too much of the plot, in his novel Ulam places moral responsibility for the death on Stalin.

The Hoover Institution’s Conquest, author of a book about the Stalin purges called “The Great Terror” as well as his new book about the Kirov killing, noted that the Soviet Union has been trying to come to terms with its Stalin period since the 1950s.

“They’ve been 30 years trying to bite the bullet,” he said.

In his so-called “secret speech” of 1956, then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev strongly implied to other party members that the impetus for Kirov’s death came from high up, Conquest pointed out.

In that speech Khrushchev said, “After the murder of Kirov, top functionaries of the Leningrad NKVD (the Soviet secret police) were given very light sentences (for failure to prevent Kirov’s assassination), but in 1937 they were shot. We can assume that they were shot in order to cover the traces of the organizers of Kirov’s killing.”

Khrushchev, who was deposed in 1964, also said it was suspicious that Kirov’s bodyguard was killed the day after the assassination “in a car accident in which no other occupants of the car were harmed.” Khrushchev’s attempts at “de-Stalinization” died after he was removed from power and his successors reinstated Stalin to most of his former glory.

Conquest noted that for the moment at least the argument about Kirov in the Soviet Union is being fought along unofficial lines, usually by writers and journalists.

For instance, in February the weekly newspaper Nedelya charged that Stalin’s secret police chief Genrik Yagoda “was one of the central figures in arranging the assassination of S. M. Kirov.”

This was reported to be the first public hint that a Stalin crony was involved in the slaying and was contained in an article about Nikolai Bukharin, executed by Stalin after a 1938 show trial. Bukharin, accused of involvement in Kirov’s murder, was one of 20 victims of that trial who were recently rehabilitated and declared innocent of all charges. The only defendant at the trial who has not been rehabilitated is Yagoda, who became a victim of the terror system he helped create.

Last December another journal, a weekly magazine called Ogonyok, published previously suppressed sections of the memoirs of Anastas I. Mikoyan, for decades a party and government official. Early in 1934 Stalin was so unpopular with party members that he was almost replaced as the party’s general secretary by Kirov, the memoirs reported. A few months later Kirov was killed.

Last week a controversial new play, “Onward . . . Onward . . . Onward,” premiered in the remote city of Tomsk after being published in a Moscow literary monthly. By Mikhail F. Shatrov, a leading Soviet playwright, the work accused Stalin of plotting Kirov’s murder.

Conquest concluded, “There was no motive for anyone but Stalin to kill Kirov.”

Conservative historian Johnson said it will be fascinating to see how far the Soviet Union goes in telling itself the truth about its own past.

“The murder of Kirov is particularly important because of everything that followed from it,” he explained. “If you say that was Stalin’s act, then in logic you really have to rehabilitate absolutely everyone after ’34, don’t you? . . . There is no logical point, once you start to unscramble the lies, at which you can stop telling the truth. You may invent an arbitrary point and enforce it, but it’s very difficult to do that.”

Who Killed Kirov? "The Crime of the Century"

The murder of Sergei Kirov--as the event that set off the purges in the Soviet Union--set the stage for Stalin's dictatorship and had a tremendous impact on the entire twentieth century, said Amy Knight, Visiting Lecturer, Department of Political Science, Carleton University, and former Fellow, Woodrow Wilson Center, at a Kennan Institute lecture on 24 February 2000.

At the time of his death, Sergei Kirov was the Leningrad Party Chief, a full member of the Politburo, and Secretary of the Central Committee. According to Knight, he was enormously popular within the party and a charismatic and talented orator. He was one of the closest Politburo members to Stalin, and their friendship was widely accepted. After he was murdered by a "crazed assassin" on the third floor of the Smolny Institute in December 1934, he became a saint and was mourned for weeks by the leadership and the people.

Knight noted that the murder is a critical event in Soviet history in that it set into motion the purges that swept the country in 1936-8, leading to the death of millions of Soviet citizens. Knight remarked that on the very day of the murder Stalin signed two new laws authorizing the NKVD (secret police) to arrest people suspected of planning terrorist acts, sentence them without a court or lawyers, and execute them within twenty-four hours. Thousands in Leningrad and Moscow would be implicated in the "conspiracy."

Knight went on to explain that the murder, although it occurred over sixty-five years ago, continues to be a subject of controversy and debate by historians. Some historians have put forth the theory that Stalin himself was involved in the assassination by ordering the NKVD chief to arrange for the murder. Knight explained that the suspicions arose from the unusual circumstances of the crime: the floor on which he was killed had restricted access Kirov's bodyguard was too far behind him to be of assistance, and was killed the next day in a mysterious truck accident and the shooter had been caught by the NKVD at least once prior to the assassination in possession of a handgun and released. The theory posits that Stalin's motive was to do away with a "moderate" politician and possible rival (there are rumors that Kirov received more support than Stalin at the 17th Party Congress).

According to Knight, Stalin's complicity has been rejected by revisionist historians who concentrated on societal themes and the deeds of the ordinary citizen rather than elite politics. It has also been rejected by Soviet and some Russian historians. In order to determine the validity of the allegations, Knight's research focused on the circumstances surrounding the murder and the relationship between Stalin and Kirov.

Knight offered several examples of inconsistencies surrounding the murder. Although it was commonly assumed that Kirov had arrived unexpectedly at the Smolny Institute, in fact one of his bodyguards had called at least one-half hour before his arrival, leaving (limited) time for the plan to be set in motion. Strangely, the assassin was found unconscious at the scene. Witnesses in the hallway provided conflicting stories that were never investigated by the NKVD moreover, the police did not close off the building immediately after the murder.

Archival evidence also lends credence to Stalin's motive. There was considerable tension between the two comrades. Knight showed how, upon his transfer (at the order of Stalin) from Azerbaijan to Leningrad, Kirov bitterly complained about the situation in letters to his wife. Kirov's letters show that he was very unhappy to have been called to vacation with Stalin in Sochi in the summer of 1934. Knight's research also led to a typed archival transcript of a previously unpublished speech Kirov gave around the time of Stalin's fiftieth birthday. At that time, party leaders were revering Stalin in their orations. According to Knight, Kirov not only damned his boss with faint praise, but went so far as to bring up Lenin's Testament, in which Stalin was described as rude and unfit to rule. Although he did so in order to illustrate Lenin's mistake, the very mention of the testament was considered heresy.

Based on archival work and an investigation of Kirov as a man and politician, Knight concluded that there is a "fairly convincing circumstantial case" linking Stalin to the crime. Not only was there tension between the two, but the circumstances surrounding the crime and its investigation point to NKVD involvement. Knight is sure that the NKVD would not have acted without the consent of Stalin, which means that Stalin punished thousands of innocent people for a crime committed because of his own lust for power.

Stalin's role in the murder is, therefore, critical to an understanding of foundations of the Stalinist system. Knight remarked that the murder has important contemporary implications as well. In Knight's opinion, the Russian population still seems incapable of looking squarely at their Soviet past. Knight observed that the Russians have not gone back to ask what the KGB was doing during the Soviet era. Instead, former KGB elite now hold top positions in the Russian political system and, in 1998, only 37 percent of Russians disapproved of Stalin. Knight warned that in the long-run this lack of unbiased review of Soviet history will hinder the country's fundamental transition to democracy.

Sergey Kirov - Assassination and Aftermath

The Leningrad office of the NKVD - headed by Kirov’s close friend, Feodor Medved - looked after Kirov’s security. Stalin reportedly ordered the NKVD Commissar, Genrikh Yagoda, to replace Medved with Grigory Yeremeyevich Yevdokimov, a close associate of Stalin. However, Kirov intervened and had the order countermanded. According to Alexander Orlov, Stalin then ordered Yagoda to arrange the assassination. Yagoda ordered Medved’s deputy, Vania Zaporozhets, to undertake the job. Zaporozhets returned to Leningrad in search of an assassin in reviewing the files he found the name of Leonid Nikolaev.

Leonid Nikolaev was well-known to the NKVD, which had arrested him for various petty offences in recent years. Various accounts of his life agree that he was an expelled Party member and failed junior functionary with a murderous grudge and an indifference towards his own survival. He was unemployed, with a wife and child, and in financial difficulties. According to Orlov, Nikolayev had allegedly expressed to a 'friend' a desire to kill the head of the party control commission that had expelled him. His friend reported this to the NKVD.

Zaporozhets then allegedly enlisted Nikolayev’s 'friend' to contact him, giving him money and a loaded 7.62 mm Nagant M1895 revolver. However, Nikolaev's first attempt at killing Kirov failed. On 15 October 1934, Nikolaev packed his Nagant revolver in a briefcase and entered the Smolny Institute where Kirov worked. Although he was initially passed by the main security desk at Smolny, he was arrested after an alert guard asked to examine his briefcase, which was found to contain the revolver. A few hours later, Nikolayev’s briefcase and loaded revolver were returned to him, and he was told to leave the building. Though Nikolaev had clearly broken Soviet laws, the security police had inexplicably released him from custody he was even permitted to retain his loaded pistol.

With Stalin's approval, the NKVD had previously withdrawn all but four police bodyguards assigned to Kirov. These four guards accompanied Kirov each day to his offices at the Smolny Institute, and then left. On 1 December 1934, the usual guard post at the entrance to Kirov's offices was left unmanned, even though the building served as the chief offices of the Leningrad party apparatus and as the seat of the local government. According to some reports, only a single friend and unarmed bodyguard of Kirov's, Commissar Borisov, remained. Other sources state that there may have been as many as nine NKVD guards in the building. Whatever the case, given the circumstances of Kirov's death, as former Soviet official and author Alexander Barmine noted, "the negligence of the NKVD in protecting such a high party official was without precedent in the Soviet Union."

On the afternoon of 1 December Nikolaev arrived at the Smolny Institute offices. Unopposed, he made his way to the third floor, where he waited in a hallway until Kirov and Borisov stepped into the corridor. Borisov appears to have stayed well behind Kirov, some 20 to 40 paces (some sources allege Borisov parted company with Kirov in order to prepare his luncheon). As Kirov turned a corner, passing Nikolaev, the latter drew his revolver and shot Kirov in the back of the neck.

The Sergei Kirov Museum maintains that the circumstances of Kirov's death "remain unknown to this day." There are no doubts on the aftermath, however: "the bloodiest round of Stalin's terror and repression."

After Kirov's death, Stalin called for swift punishment of the traitors and those found negligent in Kirov's death. Nikolayev was tried alone and secretly by Vasili Ulrikh, Chairman of the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR. He was sentenced to death by firing squad on 29 December 1934, and the sentence was carried out that very night.

The hapless Commissar Borisov died the day after the assassination, supposedly by falling from a moving truck while riding with a group of NKVD agents. Borisov’s wife was committed to an insane asylum. According to Orlov, Nikolayev’s mysterious 'friend' and alleged provocateur, who had supplied him with the revolver and money, was later shot on Stalin’s personal orders.

Nikolayev's mother, brother, sisters, cousin and some other people close to him were arrested and later liquidated or sent to labor camps. Arrested immediately after the assassination, Nikolayev's wife Milda Draule survived her husband by three months before being executed herself. Their infant son (who was named Marx following the Bolshevik naming fashion) was sent into an orphanage. Marx Draule was alive in 2005 when he was officially rehabilitated as a victim of political repressions, and Milda was also found innocent retroactively. However, Nikolayev was never posthumously acquitted.

Several NKVD officers from the Leningrad branch were convicted of negligence for not adequately protecting Kirov, and sentenced to prison terms of up to ten years. None of these NKVD officers were executed in the aftermath, and none actually served time in prison. Instead, they were transferred to executive posts in Stalin's labor camps for a period of time (in effect, a demotion). According to Nikita Khrushchev, these same NKVD officers were shot in 1937 during Stalin's purges.

Initially, a Communist Party communiqué reported that Nikolaev had confessed his guilt, not only as an assassin, but an assassin in the pay of a 'fascist power', receiving money from an unidentified 'foreign consul' in Leningrad. 104 defendants who were already in prison at the time of Kirov's assassination and who had no demonstrable connection to Nikolayev were found guilty of complicity in the 'fascist plot' against Kirov, and summarily executed.

However, a few days later, during a subsequent Communist Party meeting of the Moscow District, the Party secretary announced in a speech that Nikolayev was personally interrogated by Stalin the day after the assassination, an unheard-of event for a party leader such as Stalin:

"Comrade Stalin personally directed the investigation of Kirov's assassination. He questioned Nikolayev at length. The leaders of the Opposition placed the gun in Nikolaev's hand!"

Other speakers duly rose to condemn the Opposition: "The Central Committee must be pitiless - the Party must be purged. the record of every member must be scrutinized. " No one at the meeting mentioned the initial theory of fascist agents. Later, Stalin even used the Kirov assassination to eliminate the remainder of the Opposition leadership against him, accusing Grigory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, Abram Prigozhin, and others who had stood with Kirov in opposing Stalin (or simply failed to acquiesce to Stalin's views), of being 'morally responsible' for Kirov's murder, and as such were guilty of complicity. All were removed from the Party apparatus and given prison sentences. While serving their sentences, the Opposition leaders were charged with new crimes, for which they were sentenced to death and shot.

Read more about this topic: Sergey Kirov

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Kirov Assassinated

Sergei Mironovich Kirov was assassinated on December 1st 1934, likely by orders from his rival Joseph Stalin. Charismatic, good looking, and well liked, Kirov was a definite threat to Stalin who was trying to consolidate his power at the time. At the 1934 party congress, Kirov received only 3 negative votes whereas Stalin received far more. Unfortunately for Kirov, Stalin controlled the vote tally and he was elected instead of Sergei.

Born on March 27, 1886 as Sergei Mironovich Kostrikov, Kirov was orphaned at a young age and was sent to an orphanage at the age of 7. His education was paid for by wealthy benefactors which allowed him to graduate from an industrial school in Kazan where he received an engineering degree. He quickly became a Marxist as Russian society faced the crises of the early 1900’s.

After being arrested during the 1905 revolution, Kirov joined the Bolshevik party. He fought with the Bolsheviks in the Civil War as a commander in Astrakhan. According to Montefiore, “During the Civil War, Kirov was one of the swashbuckling commissars in the North Caucasus beside Sergo and Mikoyan. In Astrakhan he enforced Bolshevik power in March 1919 with liberal blood-letting: over four thousand were killed. When a bourgeois was caught hiding his own furniture, Kirov ordered him shot.”

In 1921 Kirov took a managerial post in the Communist Party in Azerbaijan as a loyal ally of Joseph Stalin. For this he was awarded the position as head of the Communist Party in Leningrad. Together with Sergo Ordzhonikidze, Kirov sought to soften Stalin’s harsh treatment of those who dared disagree with him. Because of this stance, he became increasingly popular much to the chagrin of Stalin.

It was clear that Kirov had to go, so it is likely that Stalin ordered his murder. The head of the secret police, the NKVD was Genrikh Yagoda. He arranged for Kirov to be assassinated. The man who was hired to carry out the deed was one Leonid Nikolaev, a erratic man who held a grudge against the Party leadership.

On December 1st, the guards protecting Kirov was shuffled and not as tight as was normal. This planned change allowed Nikolaev to get to Kirov who shot in the back of the neck. Nikolaev was captured and executed in secret. Stalin for his part used the Kirov assassination to begin his Great Purge.

Not only was Nikolaev executed but so was most of his family and a number of his friends. Stalin blamed the murder on his rivals like Grigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev, both of whom were eventually tried and executed. While there is no direct evidence that Stalin was complicit in the murder, there is little doubt that he ordered it. Everyone involved in the assassination of Kirov, like the guards around Kirov and Yagoda were dead by 1937. As author Boris Nikolaevsky wrote “One thing is certain: the only man who profited by the Kirov assassination was Stalin.” [

Watch the video: Разведопрос: Сергей Кредов про убийство Кирова (August 2022).