Everybody in the West used to assume the countries behind the Iron Curtain were little copies of the Soviet Union, with sausage shortages, tank parades and unbeatable women’s weightlifting teams.
I backpacked across the former East Blocs the summer after the Berlin Wall came down. After college, I taught English in a Czech school, traveling to Slovakia to witness Czechoslovakia’s peaceful dissolution in 1993. I hung out with journalists in smoky cafes and dreamed of becoming a foreign correspondent.
Today a generation is coming of age that learned about communism in history class. But New Europe is in no danger of getting old.
Based in Berlin and Moscow, I’ve reported from the former Soviet empire since 1996. I started working as National Public Radio’s Moscow correspondent in December 2016. Before that I contributed to Reuters, Slate, Bloomberg and The Moscow Times, among others.