On December 1, 1934, the entire Soviet Union was shocked to hear of the murder of Sergei Mironovich Kirov, head of the Communist Party’s Leningrad Oblast Committee and one of the party’s most respected bosses. He was shot by a fellow named Nikolayev, who, apparently, attacked Kirov out of jealousy, because of a rumored affair between Kirov and Nikolayev’s wife. Nikolayev was arrested and, just one month later, shot.
Yet that was only the beginning...
Kirov’s murder was blamed on a “Trotskyite-Zinovievite Bloc” and triggered a crackdown that served as a prelude to what historians would later label “The Great Terror.” Laws that were already undemocratic and harsh were made even more stringent, and thousands of innocent people were expelled from Leningrad simply because their forebears were aristocrats or priests. According to Stalinist logic, they were the ones who had to pay the price for Comrade Kirov’s death.
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