Grigory Kotovsky bigraphy, stories - Generals

Grigory Kotovsky : biography

June 24, 1881 - August 6, 1925

Grigory Ivanovich Kotovsky ( ;June 12 (June 24) 1881 in Hînceşti, now in Hînceşti district, Moldova – August 6, 1925 in Birzula, now Kotovsk in Ukraine) 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.


  • 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.


Early life

Kotovsky was born in Bessarabia, 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. Father of Kotovsky 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 - 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 due to 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 con-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, robing 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. His sentence Kotovsky served 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 put in charge of 10 men 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, therefore on February 27, 1913 Kotovsky escaped from katorga and returned to Bessarabia.

At first he lived undercover working as a loader and heavy-worker, but 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 a capital punishment by hanging. In death row Kotovsky wrote letters of repentance asking to sent him to frontlines. 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

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.

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.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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