Leonid Zakovsky, born Henriks Štubis (1894 - 29 August 1938) was a Soviet politician and an NKVD Commissar of State Security, later becoming one of two deputy heads of the NKVD.
Zakovsky was an anarchist and convicted terrorist who participated in both Russian Revolutions. After the fall of the Tsarist government and the takeover of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Zakovsky became a founding member of the secret police organization the Cheka, and was in charge of suppressing anti-Communist risings during the Russian Civil War.
In February 1926, Zakovsky was appointed head of the OGPU in Siberia, and was ordered by General Secretary Joseph Stalin to seize grain from all farmers who refused to sell. In 1928, Zakovsky was given the additional role of head of the 'troika' system, created to administer extrajudicial reprisals against peasants who resisted the change in policy. From 21 November 21 1929 to 21 January 1930, the troika handled 156 cases, in which 898 people were convicted and, of those, 347 were shot. At the height of collectivisation, in 1930, the troika handed out sentences on 16,553 people, of whom 28.8% were shot and 51.8% were sent to the labour camps.
In January 1935, Stalin launched the Great Purge, the mass killings of opponents of his regime. During the Purge, Zakovsky and Andrei Zhdanov were in charge of the mass arrests an deportations of those who had lived in prosperity before the Russian Revoloution, and were therefore deemed to be "bourgeoise". After this operation, Zakovsky was promoted to the level of Commissar of State Security, First Rank, and awarded the Order of the Red Star.
At the plenary session of the Leningrad communist party on March 20, 1937, he declared that there were "enemies still active" within the organisation, and announced a purge of the Leningrad party that was "violent even by Soviet standards." Zakovsky was planning a major trial of leading Leningrad communists, including Zhdanov's deputy, Mikhail Chudov, his wife Lyudmila Shaposhnikova, Boris Pozern and others, all of whom were privately shot without trial. An Old Bolshevik named Rozenblum, who survived the purges, was lined up as a witness, brutally tortured, and then brought before Zakovsky. This case was later recounted in Nikita Khrushchev's "Secret Speech" condemning the atrocities committed under Stalin's regime.
On 29 January 1938, Zakovsky was transferred to Moscow and promoted to First Deputy Head of the NKVD, serving as one of two deputies to NKVD chief Nikolai Yezhov, alongside Mikhail Frinovsky. After his promotion, Zakovsky and Frinovsky were charged with disposing of Abram Slutsky, head of the NKVD Foreign Department. Rather than arrest and execute Slutsky, which would provoke foreign agents to defect, Frinovsky summoned Slutsky to his office, where Zakovsky crept up on him and administered a lethal injection. Zakovsky and Frinovsky also tortured former NKVD chief Genrikh Yagoda into confessing to false charges of terrorism and conspiracy. However, Zakovsky was soon himself arrested and accused of conspiring with Yagoda. Frinovsky later ordered Zakovsky's execution in order to prevent him from testifying to Lavrentiy Beria, Yezhov's successor. Zakovsky was shot on 29 August 1938.