The Kiev rangefinder camera is a near carbon copy of the pre-war German Contax II camera. The Soviets seized The Zeiss Ikon plants in Dresden and Jena totally intact at the end of the war. Some of the Zeiss manufacturing equipment was shipped to the Soviet Union -- some was later returned to East Germany. Production of the Kiev II began in 1947. Many of the early Kievs contained a lot of "liberated" German parts. The Kiev 35mm cameras were considered the "high end" of Soviet rangefinder camera production, commanding higher prices than the FED and Zorki Leica copies. They seemed to have gone to officials and professional journalists. Given their reputation it is somewhat surprising that there are so many used cameras available today--and in many cases the later Kiev models are cheaper that the Leica copies that were made for the masses. Kiev II production ended in 1955.
The Kiev II, like the Contax II was not synchronized for flash, although many were later modified. The Kiev III was a copy of the Contax III, easily recognizable because of the light meter perched on top of the body.
The Kiev 4 in metered and non metered ( 4A) models--was made from the 1950s until the 1980s. The last variant, the Kiev 4AM, had such modern refinements as a hot shoe and real rewind crank. The construction quality of the 4AM wasn't as good as the earlier cameras, however. I read somewhere that toward the end of Kiev production in the early 1980s, the quality was so poor many of the cameras were hauled directly from the factory to the dump!
There was a short-lived Kiev 5 model that was only produced from 1968 to 1973 and was incompatible with earlier Kiev/Contax lenses. They are rare today. (source: http://home.att.net/~wayne.cornell/camera/Kiev4a.html).