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Countess Sofia Panina, a Deputy Minister of Welfare and Education in the Provisional Government

Great Russian women-political leaders

portrait of Sofia Panina by I. Repin

Countess Sofia Vladimirova Panina- "the Red Countess" - (1871-1957) was an outstanding public figure of Russia, a progressive philanthropist, a Deputy Minister of Welfare and Education in the Provisional Government.

Sofia Vladimirova Panina was born in a rich and noble Russian family. She was a grand daughter of Count Viktor Nikitich Panin, conservative Russian Minister of Justice. Her mother belonged to the family of famous Russian millionaires - the Maltsev family.

She married at the age of 20, yet soon divorced, finished Higher Women's Courses in St-Petersburg and dedicated her life to public service and charity.

Among her many activities Panina founded funded and administered the Ligovo People's house in St-Petersburg. The center served working class adults and children, providing a subsidized cafeteria, day care, adult education classes, vocational training, a library, art exhibitions, theater and other activities. It is still in operation today service some of the same purposes.

Panina was a chairwoman of various autonomous charity communities that provided aid for working females and children.

Countess Sofia Vladimirova Panina was member of Constitutional Democratic (Kadet) party and a Deputy Minister of Welfare and Education in the Provisional Government. Panina was arrested in November 1917 and faced Petrograd Revolutionarty Tribunal. This was the first Soviet political trial. Sofia Panina was brought to trial on an ambiguous charge of taking and concealing the government funds from the Ministry of Education. The trial took several turn, however was not success for the Bolsheviks.

Sofia Panina fled south Russia in March 1920 to find herself, along with hundreds of thousands of other Russians, homeless, penniless and without occupation in postwar Europe. She lived in France, Switzerlan and later the USA.


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