The Kiev 4 is a beautiful, silent and graceful camera. It has a classic rangefinder design which just makes you want to pick it up and start shooting with it. Paired up with the well regarded Jupiter 8M Contax mount lens, it forms a formidable team. Especially with a very accurate focus, achieved through one of the widest available rangefinder bases, on paper it should be a dream to use.
It is unfair to call it a clone, as it was manufactured using a significant number of tools and machines the Contax originals were made with. That is because it was built with plans and equipment taken from the Carl Zeiss factory. The Soviet Union took these from Germany at the end of World War II. There was a couple of models before the Kiev 4 (Kiev II and III), but the design of the Kiev rangefinder didn’t change for many decades right up to the late 1980s.
The Kiev rangefinders started development in Kiev, Ukraine, right after World War II. After the war the USSR moved the equipment and some of the staff from the Zeiss Ikon factories in Germany to the Arsenal factory in Kiev. One of the initial production lines set up was the one that was used for the Contax rangefinders. In-fact, the initial Kiev rangefinders even had some real Contax parts within the construction.