The main things called Kirov in Russia are all named after Sergei Kirov (born 1888), a Politburo member under Stalin. In contrast to the vile, dour types you associate with Stalin's Politburo, Kirov was a charismatic orator and a man of the people (muzhik). He was murdered in December 1934. The culprits were never identified, but Stalin used it as pretext for mass purges and killings; and of course it's highly plausible that it was actually at Stalin's orders.

The city lies on the River Vyatka, west of the Urals, and midway between the republics of Komi and Mari-El. It was founded in the late twelfth century as Khylnov as an offshoot of Novgorod; it was annexed by the prinicipality of Moscow (evolving into the kingdom of Russia) in 1489. It took the name of Vyatka in 1780, was renamed after Kirov in 1934, and reverted to the name Vyatka in 1991. The oblast of which it is the capital still bears the name Kirov.

The Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg was renamed the Kirov Theatre in 1935. It is home to the Kirov Ballet (founded 1738) and the Kirov Opera, two of Russia's greatest companies. After the end of communism, the theatre was renamed the Mariinsky, but the two companies have retained the name of Kirov. There is now also a Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington (founded 1993), named with permission.

There is also a class of cruiser called Kirov, or Type 1144. They have a length of 252 m, a beam of 28.5 m, and a draught of 9 m. There are three in service (Admiral Ushakov, Admiral Lazarev, Admiral Nakhimov) and one in development (Pyotr Velikiy or Peter the Great).

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