General Zaq

From humble beginnings on a forgotten planet, Gav-Riil Konstantinovich Zakirov built what would later be known as the Robonovan Empire. As General Zaq, he's ruthlessly enforced an era of unprecedented economic empowerment, scientific advancement, and social progress. 60 for Sixty correspondent Ekaterina Alexstrova presents his complicated legacy.

Gav-Riil Konstantinovich Zakirov's father was chief of the Wokkan clan on Robonova; his mother was from the rival Mbhengiz clan. Zaq's very existence was considered an abomination by both. His mother was exiled to her village where she was shunned and ignored, while he was harassed, beaten, and ostracized throughout his formative years.

At 16 Gav-Riil ran away and joined the Anzodoni clan, where he was groomed by war chief Dngiswako into an elite fighter. He served for at least six years before leaving when hearing his father died. Gav-Riil left to assume his father’s position as military leader, officially changing his surname to Zaq. Lessons from his Anzodoni years were instrumental in transforming the loosely-knit Wokkan armies into a unified force. After becoming general, he orchestrated a coup that made him ruler for life.

The first act of his regime was assassinating the heads of the Five Families for killing his mentor, Anzodoni chief Dngiswako. Those assassinations, still considered innovative and complicated for their time, turned Zaq into a populist icon. This and developing advanced weapons helped unify forces of rival planets into the Robonovan Empire. At the height of his power, Zaq had an armada of over 50,000 battleships and controlled most of what's now known as the Draxian Galaxy. Military leaders that most influenced Zaq:

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The General became increasingly ruthless. This was possibly triggered by his mother's slow and painful death, caused by years of abuse from her native people. Zaq ordered the massacre of civilians, women, children, religious leaders, doctors, and even some of his own cabinet.

Zaq's supporters say tales of his atrocities were invented or exaggerated by rivals trying to sell books. It's hard to know where to place him in history. His record of bloodshed is undeniable, but he founded a great nation known for science, art, philosophy, as well as economic and social equality for all walks of life. The brutality of that society's foundation is hardly unique in the Draxian Galaxy. He's proven to be an outstanding military and political innovator. Much of what we think we know about General Zaq's life might be mythical and subjective, but he continues to extend his influence well beyond Robonova.

9-year-old Gav-Riil defending Robonova against impossible odds
16-year-old Gav-Riil at his Anzodoni coming-of-age ceremony