My current profile is often presented as Russia-watcher or Russia specialist. But it was not always thus. I was originally trained as a development economist, with a focus on collectivized agriculture. My originally intended specialization was Africa, and I did do some work in Tanzania. But life does not always follow plan. My knowledge of Russian had caused me to write my PhD thesis on Soviet agriculture, and I soon found myself evolving out of Africa into a dedicated Russia hand.
I have been travelling to and dealing with Russia since the final days of Leonid Brezhnev. I have grappled with and tried to understand attempted Soviet reforms, the Soviet environmental crisis, the causes of the Soviet collapse, problems of attempted post-Soviet reforms, and the causes of the more recent authoritarian restoration.
I have over the years been a frequently invited speaker at a broad range of events, academic as well as business-oriented, and I still welcome such invitations. I have also spent a good deal of time in radio and television, and have contributed more than 300 op-ed pieces to a broad variety of newspapers.
Beginning in 2011, I am a regular contributor to the Geopolitical Information Service think tank, based in Liechtenstein. My running commentary on Russian affairs may be followed on http://www.geopolitical-info.com/en/ (paywall) and on http://www.worldreview.info/ (free access).
I have published in Swedish, Danish, English, German, Russian and Chinese, and I speak between four and ten different languages (depending on degree of honesty in interpreting “speak”).
My passion outside Russia watching is for boating on the open sea.