Sergei Zubatov was born in 1863. As a student he was active in revolutionary politics until being expelled from university. Zubatov found work as a manager of a bookshop owned by Alexandra Mikhina. This enabled him to distribute banned literature to fellow radicals. In 1883 Zubatov began working as a police spy. Three years later he joined Okhrana. As a former revolutionary Zubatov believed he was in a good position to know how to defeat them.
In 1895 Zubatov was appointed as head of the Moscow section of Okhrana. He gradually introduced several modern methods of detection including photographic files, a systematic registration of suspects and a flying squad to deal with acts of terrorism. Zubatov also trained his in revolutionary theory and conspiratorial methods.
Zabatov also used secret agents to set up the Mutual Assistance League of Workers in the Mechanical Industry. His agents became the leaders of this trade union and they attempted to persuade the workers not to make demands for higher wages and better working conditions. This proved unsuccessful and by 1903 the union had to be disbanded because its members had began to take part in strikes.
Vyacheslav Plehve, the Minister of the Interior, was angry at the failure of this policy, and in 1903 he sacked Zabatov and sent him into exile. While in Vladimir, Zabatov wrote articles that were published in Grazhdanin (Citizen) where he defended Nicholas II and his autocratic rule. He also wrote his autobiography, The Past.
Sergei Zubatov committed suicide in 1917.