Yes, they sent probes. They never sent a Cosmonaut. Here's why. (Warning: the link has a photo of Vladimir Komarov’s open coffin funeral.
In the 1970s I heard rumors that the Soviet Space Program killed some of it's Cosmonauts but thought that we did, too (in Apollo 1, although that was on the ground rather than in space). This is the story behind that rumor. Komarov went to his death in a spacecraft that he knew to be a death trap. He did it because Yuri Gagarin was the backup pilot and he wouldn't back out to allow Gagarin to die in his place.
They had guts and determination, but that wasn't enough to get them to the Moon. Rest in peace, Vladimir Komarov.