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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Sofia Perovskaya

b. 1853/54, Saint Petersburg; d. 1881, Saint Petersburg

Sofia Perovskaya advocated total equality between men and women in revolutionary work and was the first woman in Russia to be executed on political charges. Born into an aristocratic family and radicalized as a university student, in 1871 she began progagandizing among workers and peasants. She joined the Land and Liberty group, a secret society dedicated to redistribution of land to the peasants; in 1879, the group fractured and Perovskaya joined the Narodnaya Volya (People’s Will) faction, which was committed to the destruction of the imperial regime through terrorism. Plans to assassinate the czar, Alexander II, began immediately. The plot succeeded in March 1881; most of the conspirators, including Perovskaya, were arrested and hanged shortly afterward. Leadership of the group was then assumed by Vera Figner.