Lev Zadov

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Lev Zadov
Native name Лев Николаевич Зиньковский
Nickname(s) Leva, Levka the bandit
Born (1893-04-11)April 11, 1893
Veselaya Yevreyka, Yekaterinoslav Governorate, Russian Empire
Died September 25, 1938(1938-09-25) (aged 45)
Kiev, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Buried Darnytsia, Kiev, Ukraine
Allegiance Red Army (1918)
Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine (1918-1921)
Soviet Union (1924-1938)
Service/branch Black Army military intelligence (1918-1921)
OGPU (1924-1934)
Years of service 1918-1938

Lev Nikolaevich Zadov (Zinkovsky) (Russian: Лев Николаевич ("Лёвка") Задов (Зиньковский)) April 11, 1893 - September 25, 1938, Kiev was chief of military intelligence of the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine, and later an OGPU operative. Born Lev Zadov, he changed his last name to Zinkovsky.

Early years[edit]

Lev Zadov was born in the Russian Jewish agricultural colony Veselaya. About 1898-1900 his family fell on hard times and moved to Yuzovka, where his father found work as a coachman. Zadov graduated at a Jewish elementary school there and started to work as a manual laborer at a mill, later working at Yuzovka Metallurgical Works.

Anarchist underground and penal labour[edit]

Lev Zadov joined the Yuzovka Metallurgical Works anarchist group before 1912. He participated in several armed robberies (the then-popular way for anarchist groups to finance their activities), as well as distributing propaganda pamphlets. He was arrested and convicted in 1913 for robbery of a post office and sentenced to 8 years of penal labour.

From February Revolution to Makhno[edit]

Zadov was released after the February Revolution in February 1917 along with other revolutionary prisoners. He was elected a member of the city Soviet in Yuzovka soon after that. Zadov had been instrumental in organizing the anarchist paramilitary force in Yuzovka and joined the Red Army in Spring 1918 with this group. His junior brother Daniel had been member of the force too. Zadov quickly rose through the ranks and became deputy regiment commander. Zadov's regiment fought advancing German Army and Tsentralna Rada troops, but was defeated and withdrew toward Tsaritsyn. The Zadov brothers defected from the Red Army there and returned to the Ukraine to join the anarchists.


Lev Zadov joined Nestor Makhno's guerrillas in August 1918 and quickly became chief of military intelligence of the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine (also known as the Black Army). According to numerous eyewitnesses, he was a member of Makhno's inner circle and friend of Makhno's wife. Zadov is credited with personally saving Makhno's life several times during skirmishes with Red Army forces. On August 28, 1921 Zadov organized the escape of remnants of Makhnovist guerrilla forces to Romania. Romanian security services recruited him and his brother in 1924 to join an anti-Soviet underground group to be sent to the Soviet Union.

OGPU operative[edit]

After crossing the Soviet-Romanian border Zadov surrendered to Soviet authorities and joined the OGPU, working in their office in Odessa. Daniel Zadov (Zotov) became an OGPU operative in Tiraspol. Zadov had been instrumental in the annihilation of several Anti-Soviet militant groups. He is credited with running one of the most successful Soviet intelligence operations against Romania, and had been awarded with a personal gilded weapon for the "successful fight against counter-revolution". The Zadov brothers were arrested during the Great Purge in September 1937 and accused of collaboration with Romanian security services. The Zadov brothers' trial took place on September 25, 1938 and lasted only 15 minutes. Both Lev and Daniel were convicted of "collaboration with foreign secret services" and executed by firing squad on September 25, 1938.

Personal life[edit]

Lev Zadov married Vera Matvienko in 1925 and had a daughter, Alla Zinkovskaya (born 1925), and son, Vadim Zinkovsky (born 1926). Alla Zinkovskaya volunteered to join Red Army in the beginning of the Soviet-German War. She was killed on June 13, 1942[1] fighting in the Sevastopol. Vadim joined the Red Army in 1944 (age 18) and became a commissioned officer. Vadim Zinkovsky retired from the Soviet Army as a colonel in 1977.

Cultural depiction[edit]

Lev Zadov is depicted in Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy's "The Road to Calvary" novels as a ruthless but cowardly killer, who participates in numerous atrocities against civilians but shies away from battle engagements. The phrases "Hide your teeth or I'll swing them out" and "I'm Leva Zadov, I'll speak and you'll fear" attributed to him by Tolstoy, became part of Russian slang. It is proven today that Tolstoy used a pamphlet published in 1924 in Kiev for his information on Zadov.


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