Lev Zadov

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Lev Nikolaevich Zinkovsky
Native name Лев Николаевич Зиньковский
Birth name Lev Zadov
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 at 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 a 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 manual labourer at mill, later 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 (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 February Revolution in February 1917. He was elected member of the city Soviet in Yuzovka soon after that. Zadov had been instrumental in organizing 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 forces, but had been defeated and withdrew toward Tsaritsyn. Zadov brothers defected the Red Army there and returned to Ukraine to join anarchists.


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

OGPU operative[edit]

After crossing the Soviet-Romanian border Zadov surrendered to Soviet authorities and joined OGPU, working in their office in Odessa. Daniel Zadov (Zotov) became OGPU operative in Tiraspol. Zadov had been instrumental in annihilation of several Anti-Soviet militant groups. He is credited with running one of most successful Soviet intelligence operations against Romania and had been awarded personal gilded weapon for "successful fight against counter-revolution". 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.

Private life[edit]

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

Cultural depiction[edit]

Lev Zadov is depicted in Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy's "The Road to Calvary" novels as ruthless but cowardly killer, who participates in numerous atrocities against civilians but shies away from battle engagements. 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 the Russian slang. It is proven today that Tolstoy used pamphlet published in 1924 in Kiev for his information on Zadov.

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