This is the authorized translation from Russian. Vera Figner was the oldest of six children of a wealthy forester. When she was eleven she was sent to the Rodionovsky Institute for Women in Kazan for the following six years. When she returned to her rural home she was influenced by her liberal uncle, and began to aspire to help the poor. She decided to study medicine, which was not permitted for women in Russia at the time, in Switzerland. Figner's father forbade her from going, so she married Alexei Filippov, saved money and sold her dowry, and traveled to Zurich.
From 1872-1875, she was a student of Department of Medicine at the University of Zurich. In 1873, Figner joined the Fritsche circle, which was composed of thirteen young Russian radical women, some of whom would become important members of the All-Russian Social Revolutionary Organization. She had trouble reconciling her new political view of herself as a parasitic member of the gentry with her previous view of herself as a good, innocent, person. A directive banning all Russian women students from remaining in Zurich was published in the Government Herald, accusing them of using their medical knowledge to perform abortions on themselves, in 1873. Most of the Fritsche decided to return to Russia and spread socialist propaganda among the Russian peasantry, but Figner decided to remain in Switzerland to finish her studies. In 1875, Mark Natanson told her that the Fritsche desperately needed her help in Russia. She returned to Russia that year without getting her degree, but found herself unable to help the circle and so got a license as a paramedic and divorced her husband. A year later became one of the separatist narodniks (Yuri Bogdanovich and others among them), who had been siding with Zemlya i volya.
Figner took part in the Kazan demonstration in St.Petersburg in 1876. From 1877-1879, working as a doctor's assistant, she conducted revolutionary propaganda in the villages around Samara and Saratov. In 1879, Figner took part in the Voronezh Congress of Zemlya i volya (Land and Liberty). After the split of Zemlya i volya in 1879, she became a member of the Executive Committee of Narodnaya Volya (The Will of the People), conducting propaganda activities among intelligentsia, students and military in St.Petersburg, Kronstadt and southern parts of Russia. Figner took part in the creation of the paramilitary wing of Narodnaya Volya and its activities. She participated in planning the assassination of Alexander II in 1880 in Odessa and in 1881 in St. Petersburg. After the successful assassination attempt on the tsar on March 1, 1881, Figner conducted revolutionary activities in Odessa. Being the only member of the Executive Committee left in Russia, she tried to resurrect Narodnaya Volya starting in 1882, which had been eliminated by the police.
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