Wandering Camera

Album 170
(Translated by
Nina Mamayeva)


We'll resume our stroll at the Kirovsky Square.


The square was laid in the times of the first "five year plans" replacing
the Tarakanovka (Cockroach) River and a few wooden houses.
The focal point of the square is what used to be the Kirovsky District Workers Deputy Council complex. Now it's simply referred to as the Kirovsky  District administration.
Architect N.Trotsky, whose later and most familiar project was the Soviet Counsel building at the Moskovsky Square, designed it.Soviet Counsel building at the Moskovsky Square
A bit later, in 1958, architects V.Khazanov and L.Pankratova remodeled one of the buildings of the complex into the movie theater “Progress”.
Let me clarify some things about the Soviet Councils. Stalin and post-Stalin times left a fully justified impression that the Soviet regime was that of a dictatorship or oligarchy.
However, it was in the interest of the Soviet bureaucrats (and now the present administration) to support the myth that the Soviet Councils were designed and brought to life exactly the way they functioned later: with the unanimous election of the only candidate, etc.

In reality, the original Councils fulfilled a very different vision, though for a rather short time. They served as an alternative to the parliament, which at the time had all the same drawbacks as the present one - incapability to execute the laws it passed and to revoke its deputies, its inadequate representation of the society with its wealthy and powerful members, unsatisfactory moral qualities of the deputies - to name a few.

The first Soviet Councils appeared in 1906. By February 1917 their power was quite real, though illegal. The Workers and Soldiers Deputy Councils were elected at the plants and in the army. The army consisted mostly of peasants  who got their separate Peasants Deputy Councils shortly thereafter.

In the beginning, the Bolsheviks were few in the Councils, greatly outnumbered by the so-called Socialists-Revolutionaries (SRs) and the Mensheviks. Though they all supported socialism, the two latter parties had significantly different views from the Bolsheviks, specifically on the question of preserving capitalism.

By the time of the October Revolution, the Bolsheviks had the majority of votes in the Councils, and insisted that the Councils should have gained full power immediately after the February Revolution.

The Mensheviks suggested waiting indefinitely until capitalism died out on  its own. The SRs also supported the Temporary Government, but didn't have clearly defined ideology. Both parties were satisfied with the results of the February Revolution.

Either way, the Councils made it possible for all of the above parties as well as some others to interact and to make decisions that the Temporary Government had to take into consideration. The members were constantly interchanged due to elections and revocation of deputies. Not only did they pass laws, but also implemented them through Executive Committees elected by  the Council. Interestingly enough, there existed a real connection between a  voter and the top persons in the Councils. The election process consisted of  several steps - those elected at the plants voted at the District Council  elections; those in the District Council decided who would represent them in  the City Council, and so on.

By October 1917 the SRs' and the Mensheviks' popularity had decreased dramatically, and the following elections resulted in the Bolsheviks taking the majority of the seats. Bear in mind that the Bolsheviks supported immediate peace with the Germans, and proposed radical economic reforms that  didn't take capitalists' or large land owners' interests into consideration.

Following the October Revolution, the Soviet Councils became a legal form of  government. However, most of the Mensheviks' and the SRs' parties left the  Second Nationwide Gathering of the Councils in protest to the Bolsheviks'  actions.

On multiple occasions the Bolsheviks invited the opposing parties to take part in the operations of the Councils and the new government (the Socialists' National Committee or SNC for short), but such participation was  very limited - the political system gradually became single-partisan.
Throughout the Civil War those parties demanded changes that in such conditions would inevitably effect the restoration of capitalism and armed resistance to bolshevism. Considering that, there was no real way for the Councils to represent multiple parties.
However, up until the mid-1920s it was commonplace in the Communist Party and in the Councils to hear arguments, varying opinions, even the ones that  disagreed with the majority. In the late 1920s Stalin became a significant  player in the Central Committee of the party, and with help of his aides at  the time he smoothly obsolesced democratic elements in the Counsels and  assumed sole power.
From the end of the 1920s and until their abolition in the 1990s the Councils existed dependent of other forms of government and did not play any significant role.
All right, back to the square.

On the other side of the Stachek Square is a noteworthy building of school  #384 named after the 10-year anniversary of the (revolutionary) October. It  was built in 1925-1927 from designs of architect A.Nikolsky in shape of a  hammer and a sickle. Despite the unusual construction, the interior design  is quite efficient.

In all, the school has a gym, a cafeteria and an auditorium. Outside there is place for a garden, a recreational area and a park.

The rotating turret has an observatory, which is, by the way, typical of schools built at the time.
In 1938 they erected a very well designed monument to S.Kirov (sculptor S.Tomsky, architect H.Trotsky).
The engraving reads:

"Comrades, many centuries ago a great mathematician dreamt of a place to stand from where he could move the world. Centuries have passed, and not only we have found that place, we created it with our own hands.

Just a few years from now, standing on the victories of socialism in our country, we will turn both hemispheres on the path to communism.


Sergey Mironovich Kirov (Kostrikov) was born in 1886 in Vyatskaya Guberniya (Vyatsky Governorship). In 1904 he joined a communistic party (called the Russian Socialist Democratic Workers Party at the time). From 1918 he worked in Astrakhan and in Azerbaijan.
After Lenin died and Stalin took charge, Kirov revealed himself as a devoted Stalinist, turning away from bolshevism along with many others.

He became one of the leading officials of the new bureaucratic regime.
From 1926 he was the head of the Leningrad's administrative unit, technically he became the head of the city.

In spite of that, he was popular among workers in Leningrad and to this day he is well respected in many layers of our society.

On December 1, 1934 Kirov was shot in one of the passageways in Smolny; presumably, according to Stalin's orders. Stalin was wary of Kirov's  popularity. At the XVII Gathering of the Party that year members wanted to  elect Kirov as their leader instead of Stalin. Kirov was the one who warned  Stalin about that possibility.

Stalin used that murder as means to intensify repression.

This building was built in 1949-1950. It happens to be a great background to the monument, which is located to the right of the image.
The building's architects are V.Kamensky and Y.Macheret.
If I am not mistaken, Shvetsova Street runs East from the square.

The creepy houses around here are apartment buildings for workers, built in  Kirov's times. Note that originally these buildings were regarded quite differently, considering the typical living conditions at the time.

Nearby is a building from the late 1930s.
This type of building is pretty common further down the Stachek Prospect and on the Moskovsky Prospect.




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