Vitaly Primakov was born on 3 December 1897 in Semenivka, Chernigov Governorate, Russian Empire (present-day Ukraine) to a family of Ukrainians. In 1914 he joined the Bolsheviks, and he was arrested by the authorities and exiled to Siberia until the 1917 Russian Revolution led to Primakov being freed. He became a member of the Bolshevik committee of Kiev, and he fought against Pyotr Krasnov's White Army troops during the Russian Civil War. He was granted the Third Order of the Red Banner during the Basmachi Revolt, as he crushed the Basmachi movement of pan-Turkic nationalists. In 1935 he became the deputy commander of the Leningrad Military District after controlling other Soviet military formations. On 12 June 1937 he was executed by Joseph Stalin during the Great Purge, as he was forced to "confess" that he was a supporter of Leon Trotsky.