Gersh-Ovsey Radomyslsky, who went down in history as Grigory Zinoviev, was born into a wealthy Jewish family of a dairy farm owner. He got home education, but it was enough to work as a tutor as a child. Already from his youth he had entered the revolutionary circles, in 1901 he became a member of the RSDLP. Once in sight of the secret police for organizing workers' strikes in Novorossia, he fled abroad. In Bern, he met Vladimir Lenin and soon became one of the people closest to the leader. At the II Congress of the RSDLP Zinoviev supported Lenin and joined the Bolsheviks. Soon he returned to his homeland, but in 1904, due to heart disease, he left the country again. Zinoviev even entered the University of Bern, but in order to participate in the first Russian revolution, he had to leave school.
Zinoviev in 1908
Since 1905, Zinoviev, an active activist of the St. Petersburg Bolsheviks, was soon elected a member of the Petersburg Committee of the RSDLP, continued to maintain contact with Lenin and gradually became his confidant. Zinoviev is gaining more and more weight in Bolshevik circles — he campaigns among capital workers and sailors in Kronstadt, lectures for students and edits the popular Bolshevik magazine Vpered. Leon Trotsky described Zinoviev as a talented speaker: “In the agitation whirl of that period, Zinoviev, an orator of exceptional power, occupied a large place. His high tenor voice surprised at first, and then bribed with a peculiar musicality. Zinoviev was a born agitator ... Opponents called Zinoviev the greatest demagogue among the Bolsheviks ... At party meetings, he knew how to convince, conquer, bewitch. "
In 1908 the Tsarist secret police arrested him again and Zinoviev was sent to prison. But there the disease is again aggravated by the revolutionary, and after three months of imprisonment, his lawyer seeks not only the release of Zinoviev, but also permission to travel abroad. There, in Geneva, he finally comes closer to Lenin. At the All-Russian Party Conference in Paris, he promotes the ideas of his comrade and sharply criticizes the Mensheviks. Most of the correspondence with party organizations in Russia and abroad passes through Zinoviev. Lenin edits his articles, they jointly prepare for publication a collection of articles, Marxism and Liquidationism, write speeches and speeches. Zinoviev willingly accepted the edits and comments of Lenin on his works, however, their proximity did not mean blindly following all the tenets of the leader. He was one of the few who dared to object to Lenin, and in 1915 he generally sided with Nikolai Bukharin in criticizing Lenin’s thesis about the "question of nations for self-determination." However, the temporary cooling in the relations of party comrades had no effect on their joint work, and soon everything returned to normal.
The February Revolution found Zinoviev, like Lenin, in Galicia. April 3, 1917 Zinoviev arrived in Russia in a sealed wagon with Lenin. After the July events, fleeing from the persecution of the Provisional Government, they hid in a hut on the lake Spill. Zinoviev quickly flew up the party ladder and was second on the Constituent Assembly list immediately after Lenin. However, in October, the views of fellow members diverged. Zinoviev again spoke out against Lenin and called his proposal for an armed uprising and the overthrow of the Provisional Government premature. But the main mistake was his performance with Lev Kamenev in the Menshevik “Novaya Zhizn”, where they actually disclosed to the government the plans of the Bolsheviks. Lenin wrote: “Kamenev and Zinoviev issued to Rodzianko and Kerensky the decision of the Central Committee of their party on an armed uprising ...” The question arose of excluding them from the party, but in the end they limited themselves to a ban on speaking on behalf of the Central Committee. Soon there was a rift in the party ranks again. After the events of October 25, the All-Russian Executive Committee of Railwaymen (Vikzhel) made a demand to form a homogeneous socialist government from members of various parties, but without the participation of revolutionary leaders Lenin and Trotsky. Kamenev and Zinoviev and their comrades supported the idea of uniting everyone to fight counter-revolution. However, Lenin and Trotsky managed to interrupt the outlined negotiations with the rebellious trade union. On November 4, Zinoviev and several other Bolsheviks declared their withdrawal from the Central Committee; in response, Lenin called them "deserters."
Amazingly, even this loud story with Vikzhel did not greatly affect the party fate of Zinoviev. True, Trotsky disliked him, but this did not prevent Zinoviev from returning to politics. In December 1917, he became chairman of the Petrograd Soviet. He led the defense of the city during the offensive of the white armies of Yudenich during the Civil War, but Trotsky recognized Zinoviev as a mediocre military leader. By virtue of his authority as the head of Petrograd, Zinoviev again spoke out against Lenin in his intention to transfer the capital to Moscow. But the signing of the Brest Peace Zinoviev warmly supported and again regained the position of the leader. In March 1918, he was returned to the Central Committee, a year later he was elected a member of the Politburo, and Zinoviev was appointed Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Comintern as a special sign of confidence in him. He stayed in this post until 1926 and left it as a result of the conflict with Stalin. The “Leader of the Comintern” also actively supported the “Red Terror” against the Petrograd intelligentsia and the former nobility, for which he was nicknamed “Grishka the Third” (after Otrepiev and Rasputin). It was Zinoviev who sanctioned the execution of the participants in the “Tagantsev conspiracy,” including the poet Nikolai Gumilyov. Later, the case was declared fully fabricated.
Zinoviev with Lenin and Bukharin
As a member of the Politburo, Zinoviev eagerly promoted Lenin’s ideas even after the leader’s death. He also played a key role in the political advancement of his “executioner”. It was Zinoviev who offered Kamenev in 1922 to appoint Joseph Stalin to the post of General Secretary of the Central Committee of the RCP (B.). He even actively collaborated with him in the framework of the well-known “troika Kamenev-Zinoviev-Stalin”, who opposed Trotsky, while their political interests coincided. But already in 1925, Zinoviev spoke out against the group of Stalin and the party majority. The union with Trotsky deprived Zinoviev of all the posts, he was removed from the Politburo and the Central Committee, expelled from the party and expelled.
In general, Zinoviev was not very fond of the party, but they had to reckon at one time because of Lenin’s favor. Contemporaries recalled: “Zinoviev didn’t call for special respect, people from his inner circle did not like him. He was ambitious, cunning, rude and uncouth with people ... ”. “It’s hard to say why, but they don’t like Zinoviev in the party. He has his drawbacks, he likes to enjoy the benefits of life, with him always the clan of his people; he is a coward; he is an intriguer. ” Be that as it may, in 1928 Zinoviev once again repented and was forgiven. He was reinstated in the party, although he was not allowed to take up leadership positions, he was given guidance from Kazan University. However, Stalin did not forget the betrayal. In just 4 years, Zinoviev was again “expelled” from the party. Then followed the arrest and sentence of 4 years of exile in Kostanay. But in 1933, fate again makes a sharp turn and the Politburo reinstates Zinoviev in the party. He in turn speaks with repentance and thanksgiving to Stalin at the party congress. Zinoviev is actively engaged in literary activity, he is a member of the editorial board of the Bolshevik magazine, he even writes the biography of K. Liebknecht for the ZhZL series.
But in December 1934 there is a new arrest and expulsion from the party, this time the last. Zinoviev is sentenced to 10 years in prison in the case of the Moscow Center. In his prison records, he addressed Stalin: “In my soul, the desire burns: to prove to you that I am no longer an enemy. There is no requirement that I would not fulfill in order to prove it ... I get to the point where I stare at you and other Politburo members for a long time looking at portraits in newspapers with the thought: relatives, look into my soul, do you not see Your enemy is no longer, that I am your soul and body, that I understood everything, that I am ready to do everything to earn forgiveness, condescension ... ". But the fate of the Bolshevik was predetermined. August 24, 1936 he was sentenced to death. They say that, before being executed in the building of the Military Collegium of the Armed Forces, Zinoviev was so frightened that he humiliatedly begged for mercy and kissed his boots to his executioners. On August 26, the execution was attended by the head of the NKVD Yagoda, his deputy Yezhov and the head of Stalin’s guard Pauker. The bullets that killed Kamenev and Zinoviev were later found during a search near Yagoda. Yezhov took them for himself, but after his arrest, the bullets were seized. Zinoviev was rehabilitated by the plenum of the Supreme Court of the USSR in 1988.