One of the most prominent Soviet political leaders. He was one of three closest companions of Lenin and the leader of Comintern. He lost the power struggle to Stalin and was shot in 1936.
Zinoviev’s real name was Orsel Gershon Aronov Radomyslsky. He was born to an Ukrainian lower middle class Jewish family.
Despite only formal schooling, he became a well educated man. After travelling around Europe he studied law and chemistry.
A party member since 1901, he left to Geneva for 8 years where he became closely associated with Lenin, Kamenev and Plekhanov. He helped publish Iskra and Vperyod newspapers.
He and Kamenev were in brief opposition with Lenin over the plan of armed rebellion in Petrograd. That was later greatly used against them by political opponents. After the July Days he and Lenin were hiding briefly in a hay hut near Razliv. After the October Revolution Zinoviev held several supreme positions in the party elite.
Stalin’s rise to power
Zinoviev had great ambitions to become a successor of Lenin. To outmaneuver Trotsky he teamed up in a Triumvirate with Kamenev and Stalin in 1922. By 1923 Zinoviev was at the height of his power. By being the international leader of the Comintern and the ruler of Petrograd he had become a dangerous enemy to Stalin.
In 1926 he was greatly accused of “Trotskyist-Zinovievist opposition” and stripped of all of his positions. In 1935 he and Kamenev were arrested and falsely accused of organizing the murder of Kirov. Zinoviev was sentenced for ten years.
In 1936 Stalin retried Zinoviev and Kamenev in a public Purge Trial. Both men were prefidiously shot in August 1936.