On December 1, 1934, the first secretary of the Leningrad regional committee, secretary of the Central Committee, member of the Organizing Bureau and Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) S.M. Kirov was killed in Smolny. Subsequently, various forces were named after the death of the killer of Kirov, Nikolayev: among the organizers were whiteguardy-deytsy, Zinovievtsi, Trotskyists, and during the exposure of the personality cult - I. V. Stalin. Whether Nikolayev was a lone killer avenging his failed life, or whether Kirov was a victim of a political plot, the circumstances of the attempt do not give a clear answer to this question. The very fact of the murder of a prominent party functionary was first of all used by Stalin. The murder of Kirov gave Stalin the opportunity to purge the party and government bodies from all persons suspected of disloyalty to the regime and to him personally.
On December 1, 1934, the Presidium of the CEC of the USSR adopted a decree according to which the investigating authorities were instructed to conduct the cases of those accused of preparing terrorist acts in an expedited manner, within ten days, with immediate execution of the sentence. The indictment was served a day before the trial. The presence of a lawyer, an open process and the right to appeal a sentence were not allowed. The first victim of the unfolding repressions was Leningrad, where, on charges of indulgence of the opposition, the Kirov entourage was removed from the leadership of the city. On December 22, 1934, TASS reported on the disclosure of the "Leningrad Center" headed by former Zinovites involved in the alleged murder of Kirov.
The closed trial of the members of the identified "center" took place from December 21-29, 1934. The accused were sentenced to capital punishment; Announced the existence of the governing "Moscow Center" of 19 people, headed by G. E. Zinoviev and L. B. Kamenev, living in Moscow. With some delay, on January 23, 1935, the trial of twelve leaders of the Leningrad department of the NKVD, accused of criminal negligence, began. Despite serious accusations, the punishment was relatively mild - the case was limited by office relocations, demotions. In comparison with the fate of the members of the "Leningrad Center", such a sentence was a formal punishment, which was caused by the need to maintain the support of the NKVD in the planned reprisals.
On January 16, 1935, Zinoviev and Kamenev "recognized the moral responsibility of the former oppositionists" for the assassination attempt and were respectively sentenced to five and ten years in prison. On the basis of the recognition of former leaders of the opposition in the USSR, another campaign is unfolding to identify oppositionists and people who sympathize with them. Stalin’s supporters are assigned to key places: A. A. Zhdanov led the Leningrad party, and N. S. Khrushchev, the Moscow party organization. A. Ya. Vyshinsky becomes the USSR Prosecutor General. The head of the personnel department of the Secretariat of the Central Committee, N. I. Ezhov, is transferred to the post of chairman of the Central Control Commission (TsKK) and is elected Secretary of the Central Committee. In 1935-1936 Under his leadership, party tickets are exchanged, as a result of which approximately 10% of party members were excluded from it. Proposed changes in the party apparatus allowed Stalin to strengthen his position in anticipation of the emerging political processes.
On August 19, 1936, the first open Moscow trial began, where Zinoviev, Kamenev, Evdokimov and Bakayev, convicted of complicity with terrorism in January 1935, as well as several prominent Trotskyists — I. N. Smirnov, S. — were convicted. V. Mrachkovsky and other persons who previously participated in the opposition regime. The defendants "recognized" their participation in the assassination of Kirov, in the preparation of similar actions against other party leaders, "confirmed" the existence of a broad anti-Soviet conspiracy and pointed out their "connections" with other oppositionists still at large MP P. Tomsky, N. I. Bukharin, A. I. Rykov, K. B. Radek, G. L. Pyatakov, G. Ya. Sokolnikov and others. In an atmosphere of political harassment and mass repression on August 22, 1936, Tomsky committed suicide .
On August 24, all the main defendants in the Moscow trial were sentenced to death. The accusations voiced at the trial gave rise to the expansion of repression, but due to the resistance of some Politburo members and partly the local party elite, the reprisals against the opposition were postponed until the discussion and adoption of the 1936 Constitution. By temporarily refusing to suppress the opposition in the center, Stalin focuses on personnel matters. Given the hesitant position of the head of the NKVD G.G. Berries, close to the opposition, Stalin on September 26, 1936 replaces him in this post with NI Ezhov, who proved himself well during party cleansing. Justifying the personnel changes, Stalin pointed out: "Berry was clearly not at the height of his task in exposing the Trotsky-Zinoviev bloc. The OGPU was back in this business for 4 years." In October 1936, the arrests of Pyatakov, Sokolnikov, Serebryakov, Radek, as well as responsible transport and coal industry workers followed.
The planned process was supposed to end not only the political opposition, but also to hold it responsible for the economic failures of the first five-year plans. On January 23, 1937, the second Moscow trial opened, where the above-mentioned persons were the main defendants. As in the previous trial, the accusation was based on the confessions of the defendants, but now, in addition to terrorism, confessions were added in political and economic sabotage. The trial of the Moscow Parallel Anti-Soviet Trotsky Center opened, thus, the path to the massacre of national and party cadres, who questioned the course towards accelerated industrialization and further centralization of the government of the country. The second Moscow trial lasted a week and ended with a sentence: 13 accused persons were sentenced to death and 4 people were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment (including Radek and Sokolnikov, who were killed by co-officers in May -1939). On February 18, 1937, G. K. Ordzhonikidze, who opposed industrial repression, committed suicide.
The plenary session of the Central Committee of the VKP (b) on February 25 - March 5, 1937, confirmed the course of exposing the enemies of the people, the spies and the pests, which, according to Stalin, penetrate into "all or almost all of our organizations, both economic and administrative and party". The Stalinist theory of the continuous strengthening of the class struggle as the construction of socialism in the USSR was formulated most clearly at the plenary session. The plenary session also "adopted a resolution on excluding members of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) and members of the CPSU (b) Bukharin and Rykov and the direction of their affairs in the NKVD. Repressions against former oppositionists escalate into mass terror against the party, aiming at its final nationalization, subordination to the regime of personal power of Stalin. Particularly indicative in this regard is the fate of delegates X The Seventh Congress of the CPSU (B.) (1934), which had recently proclaimed complete commotion over all opposition, from which 1108 delegates from 1961 will be repressed.
Mass terror affected the army. The previous repressions were directed against military specialists who joined the Soviet government during the civil war and the post-war development of the Red Army. This time, the terror was directed against the highest officials of the Red Army, who represented the threat of potential resistance to the Stalinist regime. In June 1937, in anticipation of his arrest, the chief of the Political Administration of the Red Army, Ya. B. Gamarnik, was arrested. In June 1937, after a one-day trial by a military tribunal, Deputy Commissar of Defense Marshal Tukhachevsky, prominent commanders, heroes of the civil war Uborevich, Yakir, Cork, Feldman, Eideman, Primakov and Putna, were accused of spying and preparing a fascist plot. Later Marshal Blucher (commander of the Far Eastern Army), Chief of the General Staff, Marshal His, Chief of the naval forces of the RKKF Orlov, Chief of the Air Force Alksnis, Head of the Army Intelligence Berzin were later shot dead. Three of the five marshals of the USSR were destroyed, three of the four commanders of the first rank, all twelve commanders of the second rank, 60 of the 67 corps commanders, 133 of the 199 division commanders, 221 of the 397 brigade commanders, half of the regimental commanders. The fleet suffered no less damage. In fact, in 1937-1938. the army and navy were beheaded.
Repressions against the opposition in the party continued. In March 1938, the third Moscow trial took place, among which the defendants included Bukharin, Rykov, Rakovsky, Krestinsky, the former head of the NKVD Yagoda, as well as representatives of the party leadership of the republics: a total of 21 people. The charges brought in court did not differ much from those in previous Moscow trials. 18 defendants were shot. The process of 1938 marked the beginning of a whole series of regional and metropolitan processes that complemented the picture of mass terror. During this period, several hundred thousand people were shot, and only about 800 thousand people would be sentenced to capital punishment for various types of crimes during the period of Stalin’s rule in the USSR.
The members of the Politburo Chubar, Eihe, Kosior, Rudzutak, Postyshev were destroyed. Of the 139 members and candidate members of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b), 98 people were subjected to repression. Of the 15 members of the first Soviet government, 10 people were declared enemies of the people and repressed. Replacing Yezhov (shot in 1940) as head of the NKVD, L. P. Beriah, at the end of 1938, initially reduced the level of repression. In 1938-1940 164.8 thousand people were restored in the party, 837 thousand people were rehabilitated and released from prison. Rehabilitation in the army affected more than 13 thousand people. At the same time, on the eve of the Great Patriotic War, the organs of foreign intelligence, communications, air defense and other branches of the military were repressed. The object of the punitive-repressive policy became attached to the USSR in the period 1939-1940. territory. The NKVD continued to perform the functions entrusted to it by the country's leadership in defending the economic and political foundations of the totalitarian system.
As a result of the repressions, Stalin managed to consolidate his position in the party, crush the displeasure with the course of economic transformations. Certain separatist tendencies were weakened in the Union republics, whose autonomy was now of a formal nature. The terror also allowed for a kind of bureaucratic revolution — the October generation of Bolsheviks from the country's leadership was replaced by Stalinist nominees. Terror consolidated the position in the society of social groups that advanced in the course of industrialization, collectivization and cultural revolution: the new directors' corps (heads of enterprises and collective farms), the party and state bureaucracy, the Soviet intelligentsia. The Stalinist terror marked the formation of a totalitarian system in the USSR with full state control over the economy, the nationalization of the political system, including public organizations, and the all-pervading ideological control.