Alexandra Tolstoy

Countess Alexandra Tolstoy-Miloslavsky FRGS (born 14 July 1973)[1][2] is a British equine adventurer, broadcaster, socialite, and businesswoman. She has made several long distance journeys on horses which have provided the material for television documentaries, books, and talks.[3][4]

Countess Alexandra Tolstoy

BornAlexandra Tolstoy-Miloslavsky
(1973-07-14) 14 July 1973 (age 48)
Poole, Dorset, England
Noble familyTolstoy
Shamil Galimzyanov
(m. 2003; div. 2009)

Sergei Pugachev
Alexei Pugachev
Ivan Pugachev
Maria Pugachev
FatherCount Nikolai Tolstoy
MotherGeorgina Brown
OccupationEquine adventurer, broadcaster, businesswoman, socialite


Tolstoy is the daughter of Count Nikolai Tolstoy and Georgina Brown. She was born in Poole, Dorset.[2] She is an older sister of Xenia Sackville, Lady Buckhurst. Tolstoy was educated at Downe House,[2] and then studied for a Master of Arts degree in Russian at the University of Edinburgh, during the course of which she spent a year in Russia. In 2003, she wrote of Edinburgh:

It's where I made some of my closest friends and enjoyed four very happy and carefree years... Edinburgh has drinking hours that are the envy of all other British universities. Our only worry was how to fill the time between 4am and 6am, when the pubs were shut... The seeds were sown there for the great passions in my life.[5]

She next moved to London, joining Credit Suisse First Boston's graduate scheme as an Eastern European Equities broker. She resigned after a year and spent the next two years working and travelling abroad, including six weeks walking the old Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route through Spain.[3][5]

In 1999, she was part of a team which spent eight months travelling by horse and camel along a 8,000-kilometre (5,000 mi) length of the Silk Road. One of the support team members, an Uzbek show jumper, Shamil Galimzyanov, was to become her husband. After the expedition, Tolstoy moved to Moscow to complete her account of the expedition, The Last Secrets of the Silk Road, and to continue travelling in central Asia. [3] In 2000, Tolstoy and a friend rode 4,800 km (3,000 mi) on horseback through Mongolia and Siberia.[3]

In September 2003, Tolstoy and Galimzyanov were married in the Russian Orthodox Cathedral[6] in Bayswater, London, after which they set up their home in a small Moscow apartment. In 2004, they embarked upon the 4,300-kilometre (2,700 mi) journey from Turkmenistan to Moscow, retracing an expedition undertaken by twenty-eight Turkmen riders in 1935, who took 84 days to cover the distance. Riding Akhal-Teke horses, they were stopped from completing the journey by an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, but resumed it in 2006 and arrived in Moscow in November.[3]

When not travelling on her own expeditions, Tolstoy continues to write, organises riding holidays in Central Asia, and works both as an interior designer and for BDI, a brand development company assisting European companies to develop their business in the countries of the former Soviet Union.[3]

In 2008, she spent a month filming Horse People with Alexandra Tolstoy, a BBC Television series in which she visited five different communities working with horses around the world. The BBC objected to her husband accompanying her, and this was later reported to have tested the marriage. The BBC was hoping for more television work, with a spokesman commenting "Alexandra's Horse People was very popular and she could well do more". The series generated controversy for its graphic depiction of a horse being killed for its meat.[4][7] Tolstoy was reported in 2009 to be considering making a series about high society in contemporary Russia.[8]

While living in Moscow, Tolstoy taught English to the families of several "oligarchs" and befriended the billionaire Sergei Pugachev.[8]

Tolstoy's marriage to Shamil Galimzyanov broke down in 2009, shortly after the birth of a baby boy, Alexei.[9] Tolstoy decided not to return to her former home in Moscow and in April 2009 established herself with her son at a house in Chelsea.[9] In June 2009, she was reported to have engaged "highly paid lawyers" to protect her private life.[10]

In the summer of 2009, Tolstoy was staying with Pugachev at a villa in the South of France and was also helping him to find a country estate in England. In December, she acquired a farmhouse near Malvern in Herefordshire for herself.[9] Her distant cousin Alexander Nekrassov broke the news that Pugachev was the father of Tolstoy's son.[11]

By 2011, Tolstoy and Pugachev were reported to be a couple, with homes in Monaco, London, and Moscow, but Pugachev, by then living in exile in London,[12] remained married to Galina, with whom he has children and grandchildren.[13] In 2010, the couple had another son, Ivan, and in 2012 a daughter, Maria.[2] In 2013, Galimzyanov complained that Tolstoy was evicting him from the Moscow flat they had lived in together. In 2015, Pugachev moved to the south of France, after facing severe business difficulties in Russia, while Tolstoy remained in London with their children.[14] In 2017, Tolstoy described Pugachev as controlling and feared that he might kidnap the children. In October 2018, she said in an interview that she was a single mother and stated that Pugachev had not supported her or the children financially for three years.[15]


  • Horse People with Alexandra Tolstoy (2009)


  • The Last Secrets of the Silk Road: Four Girls Follow Marco Polo Across 5,000 Miles (London: Profile Books, 2003) ISBN 978-1-86197-379-5
  • The Horses of Heaven (2009)


  1. ^ Carson, Douglas (1990). Darwin, Kenneth (ed.). "The Fat Family and the Ridge of the Cow". Familia: Ulster Genealogical Review. 2 (6): 77. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Tolstoy family at, accessed 6 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Alexandra Tolstoy's website,". Archived from the original on 10 July 2011. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  4. ^ a b Singh, Anita (8 April 2009). "BBC's 'sickening' horse documentary sparks viewer complaints". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  5. ^ a b Alexandra Tolstoy. Alexandra Tolstoy: Edinburgh in The Scotsman dated 30 March 2003. Archived 12 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Manson, Emily (12 September 2003). "Tolstoy to Marry in Chiswick". Richmond & Twickenham Times. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  7. ^ Sweney, Mark (9 April 2009). "More than 100 complaints after horse killed and skinned on BBC2". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  8. ^ a b Richard Eden. New friend helps Alexandra Tolstoy go back to her Russian roots. 11 July 2009. The Daily Telegraph.
  9. ^ a b c Eden, Richard (26 December 2009). "Oligarch's friend Alexandra Tolstoy finds a country estate". The Telegraph. London.
  10. ^ Richard Eden. Alexandra Tolstoy calls in lawyers to protect 'secret' baby son. 6 June 2009. The Daily Telegraph.
  11. ^ Alexander Nekrassov, Stirring Trouble at Archived 5 May 2018 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Bullough, Oliver (5 November 2014). "Putin Cannot Imagine Life Without Russia or Power". Time.
  13. ^ Rodríguez, Contxa (15 November 2014). "Sergei Pugachev evita el divorcio para no perder su fortuna" [Sergei Pugachev avoids divorce so as not to lose his fortune]. El Mundo (in Spanish). Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  14. ^ Kim Willsher. Alexandra Tolstoy interview: ‘Sergei must have planned his escape. He didn’t tell me so I didn’t have to lie about it’ in The Guardian dated 13 November 2015.
  15. ^ Luke Harding. Russian banker loses £9m London home in legal fight with Moscow in The Guardian dated 23 October 2018.

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