Archive for Russian history

25 August 1936 – Grigory Zinoviev

Posted in Death penalty, Shot with tags , , on August 25 by Last Writes



Whoever said you can’t be done for the same crimes twice? Try telling that to the between-world-war Russians.

Not content with doling out a 10-year sentence, the Russian government cooked up a whole new set of crimes to try an already convicted Grigory Zinoviev again.

The supposed criminal was already in jail for allegedly killing Sergei Kirov thanks to his being stitched up by the Stalin-led Communist Party. But his guilt was questionable.

Wipe out

The Russian dictator was great at wiping out any sign of opposition. Indeed numerous sources state that it was Stalin who actually had had Kirov assassinated as he posed a threat to Stalin’s rule.

That’s how Zinoviev’s card became marked too. He was once an active member of the ‘Old’ Bolsheviks and had helped get Stalin to the position of power. Though they didn’t like Stalin’s activities, most of the hardliners bit their tongues while one lone voice stood out – Trotsky famously took a firm stance against the tyranny of the new dictatorship.

He was exiled for his pains and was eventually assassinated. Meanwhile Zinoviev towed the party line. He was expelled a couple of times and even publically ate humble pie so he could be readmitted into the party.


Litle did he known that Stalin was biding his time before Zinoviev and other key left-wing revolutionaries were fitted up with crimes implicating them as murderers. He stood accused of being a member of an organisation that had planned Kirov’s assassination.

A series of show trials took place known as the ‘Trial of the Sixteen’ (or the trial of the ‘Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Centre’) in Moscow and they became part of Stalin’s infamous great purges – a bid to wipe out the very revolutionaries who’d helped put him in power, following the overthrow of royalty in the shape of Tsar Nicholas II.

The Bolshevik supporters were had up on ridiculous charges, none of which would have held water in a kosher court of law. But there was nothing real about this scam. The 48-year-old along with 15 others like him were shot, including Lev Kamanev.

In a posthumous rethink, the Russian goverment made an about-turn and the men were cleared of all wrong-doings during the period in 1988 known as ‘Perestroika’. The problem was that it was way too late for those who’d senselessly lost their lives.

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25 July 1826 – Kondraty Fyodorovich Ryleyev

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , , on July 25 by Last Writes

Kondraty Ryleyev

Kondraty Ryleyev

Russian Kondraty Fyodorovich Ryleyev’s words were to be the death of him quite literally.

Having cheated death the first time round on 24 July 1826, Ryleyev dissed the Russians’ ineptitude so disparagingly that he squandered his ‘get out of jail free card’ by securing a second chance to swing.

Given enough rope…

Normally if an execution failed, the Russians would issue a pardon – after all to escape the grim reaper’s clutches is a fairly impressive feat and pretty miraculous. But in Ryleyev’s case the rope used to string him up had broken prompting the revolutionary poet to scoff, ‘You see, in Russia they don’t know how to do anything, not even to make rope.’

He’d forged a living out of making his controversial opinions heard. Indeed, the 31ish-year-old had been one of the leaders of the Decembrists, which was why Ryleyev was facing a death penalty in the first place. The Decembrists had tried to prevent Nicholas I controversially taking over the throne.

Glimmer of freedom

It was the Tsar’s job now to sign the release form, but when he heard Ryleyev’s scornful words, he thought forget it, and decided against a reprieve.

Ryleyev, complete with his motor mouth copped a second shot at being strung up the very next day. And this time the rope was made of sterner stuff…

Also on this day

25 July 1928 – Albert Absalom
25 July 1894 – Lewis Holder

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