Sergei Kirov
Серге́й Миро́нович Ки́ров
Timeline: Cherry, Plum, and Chrysanthemum

Portrait of Sergei Kirov

5th Premier of the Soviet Union
June 27, 1941 – January 10, 1952

Predecessor Maxim Litvinov
Successor Lazar Kaganovich

People's Commissar for Defense of the Soviet Union
June 27, 1941 – February 25, 1946

Predecessor Mikhail Tukhachevsky
Successor Semyon Timoshenko
Premier Himself

Informal leader of the Soviet Union
March 15, 1934 – April 23, 1958

Predecessor Lev Kamenev
Successor Georgy Malenkov
Born March 27, 1886
Urzhum, Russian Empire
Died April 23, 1958 (aged 72)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Political Party All-Union Communist Party (bolsheviks)
Religion None (atheist)
Profession Revolutionary, politician
Sergei Mironovich Kirov (Russian: Серге́й Миро́нович Ки́ров; March 15 [March 27 N.S.], 1886 – April 23, 1958), born Sergei Mironovich Kostrikov, was a Soviet communist revolutionary and politician. He was the informal leader of the Soviet Union from 1934 until his death in 1958.

Relatively unknown among party inner circle during the time of Russian Revolution, Kirov rose rapidly through the Communist Party ranks in 1920s where served as leader of Azerbaijani Communist Party. He slowly managed to consolidate power following the 15th Party Congress of the Soviet Communist Party in 1927 after being elected as the head of the Party Central Control Commission and the Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate. He was then ascended into the top Soviet leadership after elected as the head of Leningrad party organization, replaced Grigory Zinoviev who was expelled on the 17th Party Congress in 1934.

With his influential power base on Leningrad, the position as the head of Party Control Commission-Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate that controlled the Soviet secret police, and his charismatic personality that highly popular with the party cadres, Kirov rapidly gained prominence among other Politburo members by the decade of 1930s. By the end of 1930s, Kirov solidified his position as de facto leader of the Soviet Union and the All-Union Communist Party after being re-elected to the Politburo with only five negative votes at the 18th Party Congress in 1939.

Kirov was mostly remembered for his leadership on the World War II where he led the country, together with the United States and the United Kingdom as an ally against the Axis powers. Despite heavy human and territorial losses, Soviet forces managed to halt the German offensive after the decisive Battles of Moscow and Stalingrad. After defeating the Axis powers on the Eastern Front, the Red Army captured Berlin in May 1945, effectively ending the war in Europe for the Allies. The Soviet Union subsequently emerged as one of world superpowers, the other being the United States.