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Sergei Kirov: “…I want to live long”

1 December 2019

95 years ago, on December 1, 1934, at 16:30, the first secretary of the Leningrad regional committee and city committee of the CPSU (b) Sergei Mironovich Kirov was killed in the back of his office in Smolny. Unknown materials of the life of this Soviet statesman and politician are available in the Presidential Library’s collections. They are memories of people close to him - a personal driver and a cook; photographs; unique books, including those edited by Lavrentiy Beria.

The real name of Kirov is Kostrikov. He was born on March 15, 1886 in the city of Urzhum, Vyatka province - "in the deep lowlands of the old society, in the county wilderness, in bitter poverty". When Seryozha turned seven years old, he remained an orphan: his father left "to look for work in the Urals" and went missing, his mother died of consumption. Thus the boy ended up in a shelter. At the age of 15, a teenager entered a technical school, as evidenced by a preserved certificate issued by Sergei Mironovich Kostrikov - "the son of a tradesman in the city of Urzhum, Vyatka province of the Orthodox faith". The biographical data of this person is provided in the 1936 "Sergei Mironovich Kirov (Kostrikov)" edited by B. P. Pozern in the collections of the Presidential Library.

Seryozha studied mainly in fours, history and geography went to the three of him. But the behavior was assessed as “excellent”, which, however, did not prevent the young man from establishing a relationship with underground student circles. In 1904 he joined the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP), and since July 1905 he became a member of the Tomsk Committee of the RSDLP, and was in charge of an illegal printing house. Sergei was arrested several times. In the same edition, a unique document is given - a handwritten letter from S. M. Kirov from prison: “The future is ours! And here is the present. Dark, dirty camera. There is eternal twilight; when you look through the door through it, people appear to be shadows: gray faces, gray suits and the same gray languid looks. There are no tables or bunks in this dungeon, and people who have lost even the appearance of a person both sleep and eat on the dirty asphalt floor. <...> When you try to capture all this horror, your own grief seems like a drop in the ocean, and you are ashamed of yourself that you dare to complain about your fate ...."

In 1909, Sergei moved to Vladikavkaz and began working for the Terek newspaper. It was at this time that Kostrikov became Kirov. When Sergei once again got out of prison, the whole editorial office came up with a new name for him. We stopped at "Kira" - the name of the greatest commander. Under this pseudonym he published his articles, under it he entered the history of the USSR.

On January 8, 1926, Sergei Kirov was elected first secretary of the Leningrad regional and city party committees, as well as the North-West Bureau of the Central Committee for the Protection of the Bolsheviks (b). These days, the Baku party activist, addressing the Leningrad Communists, expressed his opinion about Kirov: “No matter how hard it is for us to part with Comrade Kirov, no matter how dear Comrade Kirov is to us, we are comforted by the thought that he will be in Leningrad. <...> You, comrades of the Leningrad Communists, in the person of Comrade Kirov, have acquired the staunch, seasoned old Bolshevik-Leninist and the best, most capable leader of your organization”.

Kirov has been headed the city on the Neva for amost 9 years. Less than a year before his death, he said from the rostrum of the XVII Party Congress: “Our successes are really enormous. The devil knows him, if one is humanly said, one wants to live and live. In fact, see what is being done. This is a fact!” And further: "In Leningrad, only the glorious revolutionary traditions of the Petersburg workers remained old, everything else became new".

Much is known about the activities of Kirov at the head of the city on the Neva: "there was literally not a single branch of work in Leningrad and in Leningrad Region, where the keen eye and firm hand of Kirov, his thoughtful and clear instructions, were not felt". But what he was like in ordinary life, this is described in detail by the unique 1939 edition, “Sergei Mironovich Kirov: Memoirs of the Leningrad Workers”, an electronic copy of which is available in the Presidential Library.

“Kirov’s work desk in his office in Smolny resembled a laboratory: here there are new paints for fabrics and for painting houses, new plastic products, products from cast iron smelted on peat coke, samples of aluminum and rare minerals of the Kola Peninsula. <...> Here is a bottle of ethyl alcohol, first extracted from sawdust, a collection of test tubes showing all the constituent elements and all the transitional stages of the formation of synthetic rubber. <...> Kirov’s office is the center where all the threads of the gigantic construction of Leningrad and Leningrad Region converged”, - the authors write in a publication from the collections of the Presidential Library “S. M. Kirov. A Brief Biographical Essay” edited by B. P. Pozern.

From early childhood, Kirov loved music and singing. A good opera performance was a great joy for him, but he could not stand a bad, stereotyped performance. Kirov read a lot of newspapers, magazines, newly published books. He knew all the novelties of literature and art, the achievements of science and technology.

But most of all, Kirov loved hunting. “Kirov beat almost without a miss, although he shot with his left hand, as he didn’t see with his right eye, masterfully made a fire even in the rain, the walker was exceptional. As soon as it dawns, it is already in the forest and sometimes goes to complete darkness. Patience and perseverance in Sergei Mironovich was directly surprising. It will go, it happened, to traction, will sit in a hut and sit for several hours in one place. But without production almost never returned. <...> Comrade Kirov spent most of his years on vacation hunting near Leningrad. And in May and October holidays it was already established firmly: as soon as the parade is over, Mironych arrives home, quickly changes clothes, takes a gun and goes out of town to hunt”. In addition, Sergei Kirov had a favorite place outside the city. His hunting lodge in the village of Pasha in the Volkhov district of Leningrad Region could have been abandoned, but survived due to the fact that it once housed a children's library.

And also “Mironich was very fond of drinking tea on the road. I knew his habit and took a small samovar with me. This samovar was really liked by Sergei Mironovich. He called him the "one-man". As it happens, when he wants to have a cup of tea, he says to me: “But should we talk to the one-man, comrade Kuzmichyov?” - the cook Ivan Petrovich recalled.

Kirov was one of the most popular politicians: they listened to him, talked about him and wrote about him. So in the bibliographic index “Sergei Mironovich Kirov in the Leningrad Press” it is mentioned that his name on the pages of newspapers from the period from 1926 to the tragic death was repeated 1094 times.

Kirov was loved by both the authorities and the people, therefore they said goodbye to him not formally, but with tears in their eyes. This can be seen by reading the supplement to the journal "Communist Youth №  23-24 for 1934" which contains obituaries about the death of the first secretary of the Leningrad Regional Party Committee.