Grigory Kotovsky

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Grigory Ivanovich Kotovsky
Grigory Kotovsky
Born (1881-06-24)June 24, 1881
Hînceşti, Russian Empire
Died August 6, 1925(1925-08-06) (aged 44)
Chebanka Village, near Odessa, Soviet Union
Allegiance  Soviet Union (1918-1925)
Years of service 1918–1925
Rank General
Commands held Red Army
Battles/wars Russian Civil War
Awards Order of the Red Banner (3)

Grigory Ivanovich Kotovsky (Russian: Григо́рий Ива́нович Кото́вский, Romanian: Grigore Kotovski;June 24 [O.S. June 12] 1881 – August 6, 1925) was an adventurist, Soviet military and political figure, participant of the Russian Civil War. He made a career from a Russian gangster and bank robber, to eventually becoming a Red Army general and member of the Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Union.

Early life[edit]

Kotovsky was born in the Bessarabia Governorate, the son of a mechanical engineer. (Officially, Kotovsky claimed to be born in 1887.) He also had five siblings. His father was Russian of Polish ethnicity and his mother was an ethnic Russian. By father, Kotovsky was hailed from an old aristocratic Polish family from Kamyanets-Podilsky. His grandfather for connections with participants of the Polish uprising was fired from the Russian service and eventually went bankrupt. His father was forced to move to Bessarabia and become a Russian burgess. Kotovksy suffered from a marked stuttering and was a left-handed. At two, he lost his mother and, at 16, his father. Kotovsky was raised by his godmother Sophia Challe, a daughter of Belgian engineer and a friend of Kotovsky's father and a godfather, the landowner Manuk-bey. Manuk-bey helped and completely supported Kotovsky enrollment and stay at the Cucuruzeni Agricultural College. He intended eventually to send his godson to Germany for the Higher Agricultural Courses, but his dreams were cut short by his death in 1902.

While studying in the college Kotovsky became involved with the local political club of Socialist Revolutionaries. After graduation in 1900 he worked as an assistant to estate manager but never for too long. Kotovsky was being fired for various acts including theft, fraternization and others. With the start of the Russo-Japanese War, he did not report to a military entrance processing station. In 1905, he was arrested for evasion of military service and sent to the 19th Kostroma Infantry Regiment headquartered in Zhytomyr.

Soon he deserted the service and organized its own gang conducting raids, setting estates on fire, robbing and terrorizing the local population. On January 18, 1906 Kotovsky was finally arrested, but managed to escape after six months from the Chisinau prison. On September 24, 1906, he was arrested again and next year sentenced to 12 years of katorga. Kotovsky served his sentence at the Nerchinsk katorga to which he was brought only in 1911 spending more time in various prisons across the Russian Empire: (Yelizavetgrad Prison, Smolensk Prison, and Oryol Prison). At katorga Kotovsky cooperated with authorities and was put in charge of a 10-man team for construction of a railroad. In 1913 he became a candidate for an amnesty commemorating the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. However, it was decided not to release bandits on the amnesty so on February 27, 1913, Kotovsky escaped from katorga and returned to Bessarabia.

At first, he lived undercover working as a loader and heavyworker, but he eventually became a leader of local raiders. One of the most noticeable was his successful "hit" on the State Treasury in Bender. On June 25, 1916, Kotovsky was unable to get away from the pursuit after another raid. He was surrounded by a squad of secret police and after being wounded in a chest he was arrested. The Odessa Military District court sentenced him to capital punishment by hanging. On death row, Kotovsky wrote letters of repentance asking to send him to the front lines. Upon the abdication of Nicholas II, a riot took place at the Odessa prison after which the prison became self-governed; the Russian Provisional Government announced a wide political amnesty.

Revolutionary days[edit]

During the last part of World War I, Kotovsky was sent to the Romanian front. In 1918, he sided with the Communists in Tiraspol, taking command of a revolutionary battalion and helping the Bolsheviks gain control of Ukraine. He joined the Bolshevik party in 1920. In 1924, he took an active part in the foundation of the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in Transnistria, as part of the Ukrainian SSR.

He was killed near Odessa by his deputy and friend for having an affair with the latter's wife in 1925. He was then buried in a mausoleum in Birzula, which was renamed Kotovsk in 1935; in the meantime it was included in the newly created Odessa Oblast. The mausoleum was later destroyed during the Romanian occupation of Transnistria. In May 2016 Kotovsk was renamed to Podilsk and Kotovsk Raion to Podilsk Raion to comply with 2015 laws prohibiting names of Communist origin.[1]

Two other towns in the Soviet Union were also named Kotovsk. One of them was his native Hînceşti, which regained its former name in 1990. The other one is situated in Tambov Oblast, Russia.


  • Kotovsky appears as an important character in the novel "Chapayev and Void" by modern Russian writer Viktor Pelevin. In this novel, Kotovsky is shown as a man who prefers talking about philosophical questions and is addicted to cocaine.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

This article is partially translated from Russian Wikipedia