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Sergey Mironovich Kirov (Серге́й Миро́нович Ки́ров) (March 15 O.S. = March 27 N.S., 1886 - December 1, 1934) was a Bolshevik revolutionary and Soviet communist. He was born Sergey Mironovich Kostrikov (Ко́стриков), later assuming the name Kirov as an alias. His 1934 assassination marked the beginning of Stalin's Great Purges, which removed almost all "Old Bolsheviks" from the Soviet government.
Born to a poor family in Urzhum , Russia, Kirov lost his parents when he was young. His father, Miron Kostrikov, had left him at a tender age; his mother also died in the subsequent year. As a child, Sergey was brought up by his grandmother before being sent to an orphanage at only seven years of age. Becoming a Marxist, he joined the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) in 1904.
Kirov took part in the 1905 revolution, was arrested and released in about three months. He joined the Bolsheviks soon after being released from prison. In 1906, Kirov was arrested once again, but this time jailed for over three years, charged with printing illegal literature. Soon after his release, he again took part in revolutionary activity. Once again being arrested for printing illegal literature, after a year of custody, Kostrikov moved to the Caucasus, where he stayed until the abdication of Nicholas II.
By this time, Sergey Kostrikov had changed his name to Kirov. He had selected it as a pen name, just as other Russian revolutionary leaders. The name "Kir" reminded him of a Persian warrior king, and he was to become head of the Bolshevik military administration in Astrakhan.
Following the 1917 Russian Revolution, he fought in the Russian Civil War until 1920. In 1921, he became head of the Azerbaijan party organisation. Kirov loyally supported Joseph Stalin, and in 1926 he was rewarded with the leadership of the Leningrad party.
In the 1930s, Stalin became increasingly worried about Kirov's growing popularity. At the 1934 Party Congress where the vote for the new Central Committee was held, Kirov received only three negative votes, the fewest of any candidate, while Stalin received 292 negative votes, the highest of any candidate. Later in 1934, Stalin asked Kirov to work for him in Moscow, most probably to keep a closer eye on him. Kirov refused, however, and in Stalin's eyes became a competitor.
On December 1, 1934, Kirov was assassinated by Leonid Nikolaev in Leningrad. Stalin claimed that Nikolayev was part of a larger conspiracy led by Leon Trotsky against the Soviet government. This resulted in the arrest and execution of Genrikh Yagoda, Lev Kamenev, Grigory Zinoviev, and fourteen others in 1936. It is widely believed that Stalin was the man who ordered the murder of Kirov, but this has never been proven.
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