Sergei Mironovich Kirov, member of Central Committee, Politburo, Chairman of the Revolutionary War Committee and head of the party in Leningrad. When he was murdered on December 1, 1934 Stalin blamed the Leningrad Zinovievite opposition group for the murder. This was a group of anti Stalinists which was led by Grigori Zinoviev.Many people say that Stalin had ordered the death of Kirov himself. I think that Stalin used the death of Kirov as an excuse to start arresting and later liquidating the rank and file of Lenin's old Bolshevik Party, beginning with Zinoviev, his group, and Kamenev. Stalin's biggest reason for doing this, in my opnion, is that once the opposition was removed, there would be no one left to compete with and to oppose and fight him for the position of leader of the USSR. Stalin wanted to be the one sole ruler of the country. In any case, Kirov's death signaled the start and the beginning of the Great Purges of the 1930's and early 1940's. Some estimate as many as 35 to 40 million people died during these purges and also over Stalin's entire reign over the USSR, not only in the USSR but in the satellite nations as well, in other words, all those nations that came under Stalin's control after WWII (eastern Europe is an example). Between 1928 and 1934 Stalin who was now the ruler of the Soviet Union weeded out his opposition and instead stacked the Central Committee and the Politburo with his supporters. By 1934 for example, at the Seventeenth Party Congress the Central Committee was composed of Stalinists such as Sergo Ordzhonikidze, Lazar Kaganovich, Kliment Voroshilov, Valerian Kuibyshev, Avel Yenukidze, Vyacheslav Molotov (whom Bukharin hated and called Stone Arse), and Sergei Kirov. Bukharin had helped Kirov while Kirov was running for the position of Leningrad Party Chief back in 1926 (also the year Kirov became a member of the Politburo). Stalin had sent Kirov there to get rid of the Zinovievites but Kirov didn't like that idea of using force to get rid of them. He called for a democratic vote instead. So it was that Zinoviev lost his position as the chief of the Leningrad Party. In 1928 Stalin began working on the details for his policy of forced collectivization, in other words the First Five Year Plan, which was approved by the Sixteenth Party Conference in April 1929. The plan called for moving peasants onto state "collective" farms, ("savhozes" in Russian) using brutal and savage force and it also included plans for the liquidation of kulaks, or so called "rich" peasants. The word kulak, by the way, is a Russian language word; translated into the English language it literally means fist. (The "savkhozes" by the way, were the state "collective" farms, where the government workers all got paid the same amount. In the kolkhozes, which were smaller collective farms, the farm was paid according to the quality and quantity of work produced, so that if the workers did not turn out the amount of work that was required, then they did not get paid. This did not help them in matters though because without adequate farming tools, these peasants could not work as well as they would have been able to had they been properly supplied with adequate farming tools and equipment.) Sergei Kirov, the popular Leningrad party chief and Stalin's friend, was appaled and opposed to this forced collectivization plan. In this time he sided with Bukharin and his friends Rykov and Tomsky to resist Stalin. Speaking about Bukharin and his friends and allies Kirov in 1928 said, "In a word, the Rightists are for socialism, but without particular fuss, without struggle, without difficulties." Bukharin at this time appealed to Zinoviev and Kamenev for help and repeatedly warned about a misuse of power by the party, for example forcing people to do things against their will, a small elite of people having privileges that were unavailiable to the ordinary citizen, a powerful small bureaucracy, the fact that what had developed in the Soviet Union was not socialism/communism but a dictatorship of a small elite over the masses and the fact that the peasants were fiercely resisting forced collectivization. Bukharin warned against this. If this plan goes ahead, said he, the result would be not socialism but a civil war, Stalin would brutally crush the rebellion, and then what we would have is a police state. He also believed that the government should exist for the people, not the people for the government. Or as he put it, "the bureaucrat for the people, not the people for the bureaucrat." Meanwhile Kirov wrote a letter to his Central Committee to warn them of the upcoming peasant rebellion and how dependent the peasants were upon their economic well being. He also said in a newspaper article he wrote to Pravda in January 1929 that the rural and urban populations were one and that the government should be helping the peasants. Kirov also began to make public speeches against the use of force by the authorities against the peasants. (During this time Bukharin had another ally, Stalin's wife Nadezhda Sergeyevna Alliluyeva, who never openly supported the Rightists but who secretly shared Bukharin's view on forced collectivization. She died in 1932. Some say that she killed herself after a night party celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of the October revolution, and others say that Stalin had her murdered.) Kirov also allied himself with some Zinovievites who he hired to work for the party. When Stalin found out he accused Kirov of trying to promote liberalism and berated him for refusing to destroy the Zinovievites.