Who Killed Sergei Kirov?
Seventy-four years ago on this day in people’s history, Leningrad Communist Party Chief Sergei Kirov was shot to death. On December 1st, 1934 the Bolshevik leader was gunned down by an expelled Communist party member Leonid Nikolaev. Kirov was popular member of the Politburo who put forth policies of reconciliation against those who had been imprisoned for expressing criticisms of Joseph Stalin. Historians who ascribe culpability to Stalin for authoring the crime point to the failures of the NKVD to ensure the security of Kirov on the fateful day. In terms of motive, Stalin most definitely profited from the death as he placed it within the framework of a Trotsky inspired conspiracy and eliminated political rivals such Lev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev two years after.
Perhaps, as Russian historian Dmitri Volkogonov had suggested, the Great Stalinist Purges of 1937 may have started on December 1st, 1934.