Zubatov, Nikolai Vasilyevich

(1863–1917)
   One of the cleverest Okhrana leaders, Zubatov sought to undercut support for revolutionary parties by the strategy of police socialism, aimed at garnering support for the monarchy from the working class. Zubatov entered the Okhrana as a penetration agent, working against revolutionary parties in Moscow. After his cover was blown, Zubatov entered the police, rising to head of first the Moscow and then the St. Petersburg Okhrana offices. Zubatov believed that the greatest danger to the tsarist regime was a revolutionary marriage between the radical intelligentsia and the working class. His strategy called for regime support of workingclass economic demands and the recruitment of deep penetration agents within the revolutionary movements. He planned to use these agents to “guide” the proletariat away from the radical parties. Among his most famous recruits were the infamous double agent Yevno Azev and Father Georgi Gapon. Gapon, at Zubatov’s direction, managed social programs for the St. Petersburg working class, becoming a major factor in Russian politics. Zubatov believed that his strategy would produce critical intelligence about terrorist cells and allow the security police to manipulate the working-class parties that supported the terrorism.
   Zubatov’s strategy smacked of revolution to conservative bureaucrats, and he was fired by the arch-reactionary Minister of Internal Affairs Vyacheslav von Plehve in 1903. Zubatov was given 24 hours to leave the capital. His successors mismanaged his strategy of police socialism, which contributed to the terrible political and social violence at the time of the Revolution of 1905. Following the February Revolution in 1917 that ended the Romanov dynasty and installed a provisional government, Zubatov returned, but fearing retribution from the revolutionary parties that he had zealously hunted, he became depressed and took his own life.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.