Countess Alexandra dubbed Putin a 'massive narcissist'

Countess Alexandra Tolstoy whose oligarch ex was dubbed ‘Putin’s banker’ says Russian president is a ‘massive narcissist’ who acts ‘without strategy’ and does ‘incredibly destructive things’ when threatened

  • Countess Alexandra Tolstoy was married to a man dubbed ‘Putin’s banker’
  • Sergei Pugachev is now considered a ‘traitor’ and lives in exile in France 
  • Alexandra, 48, says both Putin and her former husband exist in a ‘bandit’s world’
  • Called Russian president a ‘massive narcissist’ who ‘doesn’t act with a strategy’

Countess Alexandra Tolstoy whose former partner was a member of Putin’s inner circle says her ex operated in a ‘bandits world’ where powerful men act ‘without strategy’ and ‘lash out when backed into a corner’. 

The aristocrat, who descends from a long line of Russian nobility, shares three children with billionaire financier Sergei Pugachev, who was known as ‘Putin’s banker’ before he fell foul of the Kremlin and fled the country. He is now considered a ‘traitor’ by Putin. 

While Alexandra never knew Putin closely, her husband – who she called a ‘microcosm’ of the Russian president – worked in close proximity with him and described his ‘spontaneous’ behaviour to her. 

Appearing on ITV’s Lorraine today, the 48-year-old called both Putin and her ex ‘massive narcissists’ who can do ‘do incredibly self-destructive things’ when they feel threatened. 

Countess Alexandra Tolstoy whose ex-partner, billionaire financier Sergei Pugachev, was a member of Putin’s inner circle says he operated in a ‘bandit’s world’

Appearing on ITV’s Lorraine today, the 48-year-old called both Putin and her ex ‘massive narcissists’ who can do ‘do incredibly self-destructive things’ when they feel threatened

‘I haven’t met or spoken to him, but I have been in the room with him, I would say my insight is that Sergei is a kind of microcosm of Putin’, she said. 

‘The way he operates, it’s a bandit’s world. The way these bandits operate – they are inevitably massive narcissists. Sergei himself told me alot about Putin and I would say he doesn’t act with a strategy, I think that is a misconception.

‘I think he’s very spontaneous and his ego plays a huge part, there’s a lot of speculation about whether he’s ill and his face seems to imply that with his huge bloating. 

‘I know from the way Sergei behaved. When they are on the back foot they will lash out and do incredibly self-destructive things, because what Putin is doing is so destructive for Russia’.  

The couple met in 2008 after Sergei hired Alexandra to help improve his English while they were both living in Russia, where Sergei was once-close friends with Putin

Sergei has previously said he enjoyed a ‘very close’ friendship with Russian president Vladimir Putin before falling out of favour with the Kremlin

Alexandra, who lives in the UK with her three children Aliosha, Ivan and Maria, says that she and her nine-year-old daughter are ‘crying all day long’ because of the conflict. 

‘Nothing that I have gone through compares to what is happening in Ukraine and it’s devastating, even my nine-year-old daughter, we’re just crying all day long’, she said. 

‘What I think people in the West don’t understand is, every Russian has a relative in Ukraine. 

‘I think the worst thing i’ve heard is Russian parents are phoning their children in Ukraine and they’re saying “This is just horrific, we’re being bombed, what are we going to do?”. And the parents say say “No you’re not, don’t listen to propaganda, we’ve come to liberate you”. ‘ 

Alexandra’s title descends from her great-great grandfather, her father’s great-grandfather, Pavel Tolstoy-Miloslavsky, who was titled a Count for his services as the chamberlain to the last emperor, Nicolas II of Russia just after the First World War.

She met Pugachev – once dubbed ‘the Kremlin’s banker’ – while teaching English in Moscow, but says he was already falling out of Putin’s favour when they met.  

Alexandra’s title descends from her great-great grandfather, her father’s great-grandfather, Pavel Tolstoy-Miloslavsky, who was titled a Count for his services as the chamberlain to the last emperor, Nicolas II of Russia

‘It was really crazy and gave me actually a rather horrible insight into what is going on now’, she said. 

‘He was meant to be one of the people who put Putin in power, when I met him he was already falling out with him I realise in retrospect, but was very powerful within that circle and was still operating in that world.’  

After travelling to the UK in 2011, Pugachev was accused of siphoning a fortune out of his finance house Mezhprombank. State creditors in Moscow pursued him in the British courts, claiming he embezzled hundreds of millions.

The oligarch fled to France, where he remains, and was sentenced to two years in his absence by a High Court judge in 2016 for breaching court orders relating to hundreds of millions in allegedly stolen cash.  

Pugachev has cut off Alexandra and their children financially, she claims, and the family were evicted from Pugachev’s £12million south London family mansion during the height of the pandemic after reportedly being given just 12 days notice by the Russian government, who had repossessed the property. 

From billionaire to broke: Who is Alexandra Tolstoy? 

Before she met Sergei, Alexandra was married to a penniless Cossack named Shamil Galimzyanov. The pair met whilst travelling along the Silk Road on horse in 1999. 

Tolstoy first met Sergei, then a Russian senator and trusted friend of Putin who had separated from his wife, when asked to give him English lessons while she was living in Moscow with Galimzyanov.

A year later, they met again at an awards ceremony attended by the Russian president. Within months, Tolstoy and was pregnant with Sergei’s child. They had three children together – Alexei, known as Aliosha, Ivan and Maria.

Alexandra is the eldest of Anglo-Russian historian and writer Nikolai Tolstoy’s four children. She grew up in Oxfordshire before going to Edinburgh University to study philosophy. She spent her gap year in Russia.  

It is understood Alexandra has since moved into another home in London, but she also has an idyllic country home, which she bought in 2004.

Pugachev once owned two major shipyards, the world’s biggest mine and large chunks of real estate in Moscow and St Petersburg, as well as the Mezhprombank, which he co-founded in the 1990s.

The couple met in 2008 after Sergei hired Alexandra to help improve his English while they were both living in Russia, where Sergei was once-close friends with Putin. 

Speaking of their relationship in a documentary, Alexandra said: ‘When I met Sergei it was electric. It was amazing. I fell so in love with him. I’ve never felt such a connection to someone ever.’ 

Within a year of meeting, they had a baby and another on the way, and were living a life of luxury in London, Moscow and Paris. 

Alexandra said: ‘It was incredible, he would give me his credit card and I would go shopping, I had a private jet. I just had to pack my suitcase and I could go.’ 

The family moved between an array of properties including a £12million family home in Battersea, a 200-acre country estate in Hertfordshire, and a £40million beachfront villa in St Barts.

But in 2008, Sergei’s bank hit problems and the Russian bank bailed it out with $1 billion loan. 

Sergei, who left Russia in 2011, claims that after relations between him and Putin cooled, the Kremlin tried to seize or destroy his business empire.  

The Russians then accused him of profiting from vast sums of taxpayers’ money given to Mezhprombank by the Russian central bank at the height of the 2008 economic crisis. 

The Russian authorities froze his assets, put him on Interpol’s wanted list and obtained a court order in Britain forcing him to hand over his passports.

By 2015, he was dividing his time between France and the family home in London and claimed to be number 3 on Kremlin’s hitlist. 

State creditors in Moscow pursued him in the British courts, claiming he embezzled hundreds of millions. 

Pugachev fled to France before the 2016 High Court ruling in a case brought by Russia’s Deposit Insurance Agency, in which he was sentenced for 12 breaches of court orders connected to a freezing order imposed on him over attempts to recover the cash.

In the February 2016 High Court judgment, no ruling was made on the allegations of embezzled cash and Pugachev told the court he had ‘not stolen any money’. In her judgment jailing him, Mrs Justice Rose noted he ‘does have a genuine fear that his life is in danger from agents of the Russian state’.

Anne-Jessica Faure, a lawyer for Mr Pugachev, said there has been no court decision establishing financial wrongdoing by him. 

On the order of the High Court, the family home was put on the market and Alexandra made a deal with the Russian government to drop her claim to his fortune. 

WHO IS SERGEI  PUGACHEV? 

Sergei Pugachev once owned two major shipyards, the world’s biggest mine and large chunks of real estate in Moscow and St Petersburg, as well as the Mezhprombank, which he co-founded in the 1990s.

He enjoyed a close relatinship with Vladimir Putin, and in 2008 when Sergei’s bank hit problems, the Russian state bailed it out with $1 billion loan.

Sergei amassed enormous wealth from his companies, and lived a lavish lifestyle before becoming an enemy of the Russian state 

Sergei, who left Russia in 2011, claims that relations between him and Putin cooled, due to his relationship with the Russian leader calling him a ‘traitor’ for dating ‘English woman’ Alexandra, the Kremlin tried to seize or destroy his business empire.  

The Russians then accused him of profiting from vast sums of taxpayers’ money given to Mezhprombank by the Russian central bank at the height of the 2008 economic crisis. 

It has since been pursuing Sergei Pugachev through the High Court claiming he illegally siphoned hundreds of millions of pounds from the government bailout of the Mezhprombank.

Authorities froze his assets, put him on Interpol’s wanted list and obtained a court order in Britain forcing him to hand over his passports.

By 2015, he was dividing his time between France and the family home in London and reputed to be number 3 on Kremlin’s hitlist.

Mr Pugachev denies the allegations and claims Moscow is trying to steal £11billion of his assets, including two shipyards and the world’s largest mine. 

He has previously been declared to be in contempt of court, with a two-year prison sentence left hanging over his head should he return to this country.

He had been living in France for the past five years after being ordered to give up his passports in 2014. 

In Nice, he was visited by the DIA who demanded repayment of the billion dollar loan and threatened his family, saying they could ‘cut off his son’s finger and send it back to him.’ 

He also claims ‘credible attempts’ had been made on his life in the UK. 

The tycoon is in another legal battle with Russia in The Hague where he is suing the Federation for £11billion.

He claims he is being targeted because of his knowledge of state secrets.

Sergei said he enjoyed a ‘very close’ friendship with Russian president Vladimir Putin before falling out, with the politician calling Sergei ‘a traitor’ for dating an ‘English woman’

 

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