Georgy Safarov

Georgy Safarov
Георгий Сафаров
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Died27 July 1942(1942-07-27) (aged 50–51)
Political partyRSDLP (Bolsheviks) (1908–1918)
Russian Communist Party (1918–1927, 1928–1934)

Georgy Ivanovich Safarov (Russian: Георгий Иванович Сафаров) (1891 – 27 July 1942) was a Bolshevik revolutionary and politician who was a participant in the Russian Revolution, the Russian Civil War, and in the executions of the Romanovs in Yekaterinburg and Alapayevsk. Later associated with Grigory Zinoviev's New Opposition and Leon Trotsky's United Opposition, he was secretly communicating with Trotsky in late 1932 about entering his bloc. He was purged from the Communist Party, and was later imprisoned in Vorkuta in 1937, after which he served as an NKVD informant. He was ultimately executed on 27 July 1942 by a Special Collegium of the NKVD. He is one of the only victims of Joseph Stalin's purges that was not posthumously rehabilitated or reinstated to the party after his death.


Born in 1891 to a Polish mother and Armenian father in Saint Petersburg as the son of an architect, he joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1908, and sided with the Bolshevik faction led by Vladimir Lenin. In 1910, he emigrated to Switzerland and worked as party secretary in the Zürich Region.

Following the February Revolution, Georgy Safarov was one of 31 individuals who accompanied Vladimir Lenin in a sealed train under German supervision to Petrograd, along with other notable communist figures including Grigory Zinoviev, Karl Radek, Inessa Armand, and Lenin's wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya. He was a member of the Military Revolutionary Committee, which also included members such as Joseph Stalin, Andrei Bubnov, Moisei Uritsky, Felix Dzerzhinsky, and Yakov Sverdlov, and took part in the October Revolution.

Following the Bolshevik seizure of power and the outbreak of the Russian Civil War, he was appointed a member of the Presidium of the Ural Regional Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik), also popularly referred to as the Ural Soviet, and worked as editor-in-chief of the party's regional newspaper, the Ural Worker, and served on the editorial board of Pravda, the party's official state newspaper.

On 29 June 1918, Safarov, as a member of the Presidium of the Ural Regional Soviet under Alexander Beloborodov, was a party to the unanimous decision to execute the Romanovs imprisoned in Yekaterinburg, who included the deposed Emperor Nicholas II, his wife Empress Alexandra, and their five children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei. Safarov was a signatory to the resolution on the shooting, and sent a final telegram to Yakov Sverdlov in Moscow along with Filipp Goloshchekin seeking final approval. Yakov Yurovsky, the chief executioner, later recorded that a signed response from Sverdlov had been passed to him by Goloshchekin around 7:00 pm on 16 July. He later assisted in the procurement of materials for the disposal of the remains, and the confiscation of the Romanov's property by the state.

On 18 July, a day after the killings of the Romanovs in Yekaterinburg, Safarov traveled to nearby Alapayevsk as a representative of the Ural Soviet to direct the killings of a number of Romanov extended relations and their companions, including Alexandra's sister Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine, Prince Ioann Konstantinovich, Prince Igor Konstantinovich, Prince Konstantine Konstantinovich, Grand Duke Sergey Mikhaylovich, and Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley, as well as Elisabeth's trusted friend and companion Sister Varvara Yakovleva, and Fyodor Remez, Grand Duke Sergey's personal secretary. He was safely evacuated from the Ural Region along with most of the other members of the Ural Soviet prior to the arrival of the White Army, who captured Yekaterinburg on 25 July.

In November 1919, Safarov was sent to Turkestan to take part in the suppression of the White Movement and the Basmachi there and the establishment of Soviet power in the region, and was a member of the Turkburo of the Central Committee of the RCP (b) from 1920 until 1922. He was appointed a member of the Executive Committee of the Comintern in 1922 and served as a Candidate Member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1921 to 1925. Following the death of Vladimir Lenin, Safarov largely supported Grigory Zinoviev's faction in the ensuing inter-party conflict, and from 1926, was a member of the United Opposition, formed as a merger of Zinoviev's New Opposition and Leon Trotsky's Left Opposition. In 1926, he was appointed First Secretary of the Plenipotentiary Office in the Republic of China and was thereafter appointed to the Trade Mission of the Soviet Union in Turkey. On 18 December 1927, he was expelled from the CPSU and arrested. He was sentenced to 4 years of exile by a Special Collegium of the NKVD and deported to Achinsk. After filing an application for his withdrawal from the opposition on 9 November 1928, he was restored to the CPSU. From 1930 until 1934, he served as the head of the Eastern Department of the Executive Committee of the Comintern.

In an unknown date he joined a secret opposition group with a Bolshevik named Tarkhanov, which not much is known about. A letter of Lev Sedov written by the end of 1932 said this group would still join a secret political bloc with Leon Trotsky, Lev Kamenev and Grigori Zinoviev as well as some rightists: "The Safar–Tarkhan Group have not yet formally entered they have too extreme a position; they will enter very soon." Trotsky's letters defined the bloc as a force to fight Stalinist repression. Trotskyist historian Pierre Broué said the bloc dissolved in early 1933, because some of its members were arrested and Zinoviev and Kamenev yet again capitulated to Stalin.[1] On 25 December 1934 after the assassination of Sergey Kirov, he was again arrested as part of a series of mass arrests which came to be described as the "Kirov stream". On 16 January 1935, he was again sentenced to 2 years of exile in the so-called "Case of the Leningrad Counter-Revolutionary Zinoviev group of Safarov, Zalutsky, and others" and again deported to Achinsk. On 16 December 1936, he was arrested in Achinsk and sentenced to 5 years in prison on charges of "Counter-Revolutionary Trotskyist activities", and was sent to Vorkuta on 15 January 1937.

While still serving his sentence in the Gulag, Safarov was sentenced to death by a decree of a Special Collegium of the NKVD on 16 July 1942 following the German Invasion of the Soviet Union, ironically on the same day Safarov had signed the death warrant for the Romanovs 24 years prior. He was executed on 27 July 1942 in Saratov and was consigned to an unmarked grave.

Safarov was the only individual convicted in the case of the Leningrad Counter-Revolutionary Zinoviev Group who was not posthumously rehabilitated by the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR, as the court concluded that "Safarov G.I., given his provocative activities after his arrest, is not advisable to rehabilitate". The certificate of the case prepared on 16 October 1961 by the responsible controller of the CPC at the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Military Prosecutor of the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office noted:

"It is especially necessary to dwell on the testimony of Safarov. At repeated interrogations during the preliminary investigation in the present case, Safarov named 111 people, Zinoviev, Kamenev, and many other former opposition participants, as well as persons whom Safarov independently attributed participation in the opposition. Without citing specific facts that could be used as a basis for accusing the persons named in anti-Soviet activities, Safarov attributed to them the holding of such and each of them a negative political characteristic. Subsequently, in 1938–1940, during his time in prison, Safarov was used as a witness and a provocateur on the instructions of state security personnel, and also, on his own initiative, gave testimony to numerous individuals. Safarov reported in a statement dated 10 September 1941 to Vsevolod Merkulov, that for more than two years he has been "rigorously fulfilling the tasks of the investigative unit for combating enemies of the people". In another statement addressed to Lavrentiy Beria he insisted that he could still be "something of great use to the NKVD" and requested that Beria resume issuing him additional funds and supplies.

For this reason, Safarov was not posthumously rehabilitated or reinstated in the party.


  1. ^ "Pierre Broué: The "Bloc" of the Oppositions against Stalin (January 1980)". Retrieved 7 August 2020.

Media files used on this page

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Safarov, Georgy Ivanovich