How a descendant of a Russian general became Prime Minister of French Polynesia

Alexey Leontiev (right).

French Polynesia is located in the South Pacific Ocean. It includes about 130 islands, the largest of which is Tahiti. From 1987 to 1991, the prime minister of French Polynesia was Alexander Maksimovich Leontiev. The man, frankly, is far from having a French surname. So it is, Alexander Leontyev was a descendant of a general of the Russian imperial army, who, by the will of fate, ended up on the distant island of Tahiti. And his grandson became an influential politician, and even advocated the independence of this archipelago from France.

Maxim Nikolaevich Leontiev.

The prime minister's grandfather, Maxim Nikolaevich Leontiev, was born on September 7, 1871 in the Tambov province. He was a descendant of an old noble family, according to a family legend, his ancestor Murza Abatur left the Big Horde at the beginning of the 15th century and entered the service of the Russian prince Fyodor, adopting Christianity with the name Methodius. Maxim Leontiev, at the age of 17, entered the prestigious military educational institution - the Corps of Pages, from where, two years later, he was released with the rank of second lieutenant in the 3rd Guards Grenadier Artillery Brigade.

His military career developed rapidly, in 1896 the young officer entered the Academy of the General Staff, during the First World War he commanded the 4th Special Infantry Brigade of the Russian Expeditionary Corps, which was sent to France, and then to Thessaloniki. After the October Revolution, Leontyev decided not to return back to Russia, he managed to bring his family to Europe and settle on the Cote d'Azur in France. Unlike many Russian immigrants, Mikhail Nikolaevich Leontiev did not live in poverty. He was able to accumulate substantial capital and went into the tourism business, opening a chain of restaurants and hotels in Nice and Monte Carlo.

Boris Leontiev.

In addition, General Leontyev was actively involved in politics, becoming one of the organizers of the League for the Renaissance of Russia. His affairs were going quite well, but his quiet life was overshadowed by one circumstance: under mysterious circumstances, former officers of the tsarist army began to die one after another. There were rumors that they were being eliminated by agents of the Soviet Union, so Leontiev began to fear that he might be next. He decides to leave for the distant island of Tahiti, where, in his opinion, it was much safer.

In Tahiti, he continued his business, built hotels, restaurants, opened yacht clubs, which brought him and his family a solid income. Maxim Nikolayevich Leontiev died in 1948, an Orthodox cross was installed on his grave, and the family business passed to his son, Maxim Maximovich. General Leontyev's grandchildren no longer spoke Russian, they married foreign women, although they bore quite common names for Russians - Alexander, Boris and Igor.

Boris Leontyev was a well-known politician, founder of the New Star party, advocated the expansion of the rights of the Polynesians. In 2002, he died in a plane crash at the age of 47. It happened under mysterious circumstances: Boris Leontyev, along with three fellow party members, disappeared during a flight on a small Pipper 34 Seneca plane. The crew stopped communicating and did not arrive at their destination. Neither the bodies of the dead nor the wreckage of the plane itself were found. The case of the death of Boris Leontyev and his comrades was closed only nine years after the tragedy - in 2011.

Igor, the youngest of the brothers, was not particularly involved in politics, preferring bodybuilding - eight times he received the title "Mr. Polynesia". But, the most famous politician from the Leontyev family was Alexander. In 1970 he successfully graduated from the university in the French city of Rennes. In the eighties and nineties he was a member of the French National Assembly from French Polynesia. And in 1897, in his homeland, he was elected prime minister. In this post, Alexander Leontyev was able to hold out for four years, actively advocated for the archipelago to gain autonomy. In addition, Leontiev demanded a ban on nuclear tests in Polynesia.

Perhaps it was this circumstance that led to the serious aggravation of relations between the Prime Minister of French Polynesia and Paris. In 1997, when Leontyev had long since left the prime minister's chair, he was accused of corruption and sentenced to two years in prison. The former prime minister served half of his term and was released early. He left big politics and went into business, heading a housing investment company. Alexander Maksimovich Leontiev failed to become the ruler of independent Polynesia.

A descendant of a Russian general passed away on March 2, 2009. He died at the age of sixty from a heart attack. Currently, there are no active politicians left among the Leontyevs' Polynesians, their sister Elizabeth chose the peaceful profession of an archivist historian.