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Grigory Yevseyevich Zinovyev, Zinovyev also spelled Zinoviev, original name Ovsel Gershon Aronov

Radomyslsky (born Sept. 11 [Sept. 23, New Style], 1883, Yelizavetgrad, Ukraine, Russian Empire [now
Kirovohrad, Ukraine]died Aug. 25, 1936, Moscow, Russia, U.S.S.R.) revolutionary who worked closely
with Lenin in the Bolshevik Party before the Russian Revolution of 1917 and became a central figure in
the Communist Party leadership in the Soviet Union in the 1920s. He later was a victim of Joseph Stalins
Great Purge.

Zinovyev was born to lower middle-class Jewish parents and received no formal education, but during
travels abroad in 190205 he attended lectures on law at Bern University. In 1901 he joined the Social
Democratic Workers Party and Lenins radical Iskra organization within that party. After the party split in
1903, he adhered to the Bolsheviks. He was an agitator among the St. Petersburg workers during the
Russian Revolution of 1905 and became a member of the partys Central Committee after the London
Congress in 1907. He was arrested in 1908 but shortly released because of ill health.
Zinovyev was Lenins principal collaborator in the period 190917, living in France, Austria, or
Switzerland. He took part in the struggles against the militant Bolsheviks who opposed Lenins leadership
and also against the Mensheviks and Leon Trotsky. He was active in directing Bolshevik organizations in
Russia and the activities of the Bolshevik deputies in the Duma. During World War I he tried to organize
the internationalists among the European socialists.
In April 1917, after the February Revolution had overthrown the monarchy, Zinovyev accompanied Lenin
on his return to Russia. But in October, when Lenin insisted that the Bolsheviks seize power, Zinovyev and
his close associate Lev B. Kamenev opposed him and even leaked information about the proposed coup
dtat to the press. Immediately after the October Revolution he again dissented, vainly demanding that his
colleagues include members from other socialist parties in the government. To symbolize his protest, he
resigned from the Bolshevik Central Committee (November 1917).
Nevertheless, Zinovyev was soon restored to his position as a principal Bolshevik leader. An outstanding
orator, he helped win public support for the new regime, and by 1921 he had become head of the Petrograd
(later Leningrad) party organization, chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, and a full member of the partys
Politburo. In 1919 he also became chairman of the executive committee of the newly established
Communist International (Comintern), which, dominated by the Russian Communists, formulated socialist
policies and coordinated the activities of its member parties. (In conjunction with that post he achieved
international notoriety when in 1924 the London press published a letter, allegedly written by him,
instructing British communists to conduct subversive activities. The publication of the letter was
considered to be the cause of the downfall of Britains first Labour government.)
In the early 1920s Zinovyev formed a coalition in the Politburo with Kamenev and Stalin to prevent Leon
Trotsky from succeeding Lenin, who had become seriously ill and died in January 1924. But after the
triumvirate had eliminated Trotsky as a serious contender in the power struggle (by early 1925), Stalin

turned against his former allies. Neither Zinovyevs control over the Leningrad party organization and the
Comintern nor his belated political alliance with Trotsky (1926) proved sufficient to preserve his position
of authority and influence in the party. By the end of 1926 he had been forced out of the Politburo and the
Comintern, and in 1927 he was expelled from the Communist Party.
Although he was subsequently readmitted to the party, he never recovered his former prestige and was
expelled again on two other occasions (1932 and 1934). In 1935 he was arrested, secretly tried for moral
complicity in the assassination of the party leader Sergey Mironovich Kirov (December 1934), and
sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. The following year, however, he was retried at the first Great Purge
trial, found guilty on the fabricated charge of forming a terrorist organization to assassinate Kirov and
other Soviet leaders, and executed. In 1988 the Soviet Supreme Court annulled the sentence posthumously.