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Silk Road Romance

A glamorous blue-blood will marry her Russian oligarch fiance later this year, capping a fairy-tale romance.

A number of Central Asian publications, including the popular news website, are following the love story between British-born Alexandra Tolstoy and Russian banker Sergei Pugachev.

Central Asians are interested because the ex-husband of Tolstoy, a 35-year-old equestrian adventurer and descendant of novelist Leo Tolstoy, is a former Uzbek athlete.

Countess Tolstoy made a splash in Central Asia in 2003 when she married Shamil Galimzyanov, an otherwise obscure show-jumper.

The two had reportedly met four years earlier when Tolstoy hired Galimzyanov as her guide during an expedition along the ancient Silk Road.

Tolstoy was said to have claimed her love would survive despite the sharp contrast between her upper-class upbringing and Galimzyanov's humble background. Tabloids reported that the marriage went sour around the time that she gave birth to a son in early 2009.

Pugachev was listed by "Forbes" as Russia's 50th richest citizen in 2008, and is said to be worth a less humble $5.2 billion.

-- Farangis Najibullah

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