Levibor (Viktor Leontiev), Cold War photographer

Photographer Viktor Leontiev (“Levobor) and his collection.
Leontiev Viktor Borisovich, the creative pseudonym “LeviBor” from the abbreviation of the surname, name and patronymic – an outstanding photo artist and documentary filmmaker of the USSR era, born in 1946.
During Soviet times, photographing military installations was strictly prohibited, except when it was done on the orders of the leadership for the design of visual agitation or for articles in newspapers. Each department had its own press organ. The main newspaper of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR was the newspaper “Krasnaya Zvezda” (Red Star), headquartered in Moscow. The Moscow Air Defense Military District also had its own newspaper called “Na Boevom Postu” (At the Battle Post). Victor  Leontiev has been a longtime employee, correspondent and photographer of this military newspaper since 1971. For decades, Victor photographed parades and celebrations on Red Square, demonstrations at military and civilian airfields. Constant business trips to other cities, villages and remote military installations for good illustrative pictures in a military newspaper. Soldiers and officers, signalmen, missiles, aircraft, combat posts of the defenders of the motherland. According to Leontiev himself, “I traveled around everything within a radius of 400 kilometers from Moscow.” 400 kilometers is just the border of the Moscow Air Defense District. He pasted his photographs into special albums, both published in the newspaper and not published. This is how the “Collection of photographs of Viktor Leontiev” was created. Many years ago, while communicating with work colleagues and senior comrades, Victor began to collect photographs of his friends. One of his friends, mentors and teachers, Yaroslavtsev was for a long time the “court photographer” of Nikita Khrushchev himself and the legendary units of the World War II Air Force. Leontiev’s friendship with Yaroslavtsev made it possible to preserve the latter’s large collection. Thus, Leontiev’s collection of photographs includes not only his own work, but also many of his older friends and predecessors.
The restructuring of Mikhail Gorbachev, the reduction of the army and the decline in the threat of the Third World War, as well as the need to earn money outside the Ministry of Defense, led Leontiev to move into the field of culture and art. Continuing to photograph rockets and planes, Victor began to work with the Bolshoi Theater. Many artistic and even combined photographs appeared on the stage, behind the scenes of the theater and even in the Kremlin Palace of Congresses. At the end of the 1980s, many outstanding figures of culture and art, especially artists, left Soviet Russia and emigrated to the United States. There were political and economic reasons for this, and most importantly, the United States is a free country of free people, where everyone can realize himself, without the “nomenklatura system, communist party and government.” So the photographer Leontiev formed a large collection associated with theater artists in the last years of the Soviet Union. Most of the pictures have their own marks – seals, stamps and autographs, sometimes funny and in the atmosphere of the late 80s and early 90s. The collection of negatives by Leontiev himself and his friends numbers hundreds or even thousands of units, which will make it possible in the future to make an excellent photo chronicle of the Cold War chronicle. For the archives of France and the USA, this is very important, since the monopoly of ITAR-TASS, the owner of most photographs of the Soviet period, is being destroyed.
The personal belongings of the author himself, his diploma of completion of photography courses, passport, cameras and lenses, textbooks form a small collection of the artifacts, which will eventually go to some Archives or Museum in France or the USA.

Famous Soviet Cold War photographer Viktor Leontiev

Famous Soviet Cold War photographer Viktor Leontiev, 1981

Biography: photographer Viktor Leontiev born on May 9 (Victory Day, the main Soviet holiday) in 1946 in Moscow. In 1961 he graduated from the 8th grade of the school, in October he was awarded the badge “Tourist of the USSR”
In January 1962, at the age of 15, he worked as a fitter and assembler at the ZIL automobile plant (former ZIS, Stalin Plant), joined a trade union, a labor school of the communism.
In the same month, he joined the Komsomol (young builders of communism) at the Institute of Light Alloys. He graduated from industrial technical courses at the Moscow Automobile Plant named after Likhachev (ZIL).

In December 1962 he made a hiking mountain hike Bakhchisaray-Yalta in the Crimea.
In November 1965, he was registered with the defense enterprise p. 769 (mailbox) of the Design Bureau of the Ministry of Aviation Industry, which gave protection from conscription into the army.
In March 1967, he went skiing on the Kolsky Peninsula in the north. In May of this year, he received a certificate that I had completed a ski tourism course.
From November 1967 to June 1969 he served at the top secret communication center of the USSR General Staff “Rubin” military unit 2581 in the city of Chekhov, Moscow Region, had a secret form of access to the military facilities and documents. Military rank – private, type of the troops – communications.
In November 1970, November entered the Lecture Hall (courses) on photo reportage and graduated in May 1972 with a diploma.
In 1970 he entered the Polytechnic and in May 1973 successfully graduated with a degree in photography, receiving a diploma and the right to wear a badge.
Having access to secret documents in the Soviet army, at the end of the course of the technical school, he began working as a photographer as a correspondent for the daily newspaper of the Ministry of Defense of the Moscow Military District of the Air Defense Forces “On the Battle Post”. He worked in the newspaper until the end of the 90s, being on constant business trips to military units within a radius of 400 km from Moscow.
From the beginning of Mikhail Gorbachev’s Perestroika, as an additional work, he began to photograph artists of the Bolshoi Theater using combined photography and photo editing.

Victor Leontiev Cold War collection and USSR photo archive

Cold War photo gallery of Viktor Leontiev, Soviet Army and USSR

to be continued..

Personal documents Victor Leontiev