Russia won’t let me go. I became fascinated by Russia as a boy when my parents gave me a 700-page book of Russian fairy-tales one Christmas. The fact the Soviet Union was closed, far away and America’s mortal enemy added to the country’s mystique. I devoured every book on Russia I could get my hands on. When I went to college, I started studying Russian.
What continues to intrigue me is that no matter how close I get to Russia and Russians, I always end up feeling like a foreigner. Despite all the Western influence, Russia preserves its distinctiveness, belonging to neither Europe nor Asia.
Based in Berlin and Moscow, I’ve reported from the former Soviet empire since 1996 for NPR, Reuters, Slate, Bloomberg and The Moscow Times, among others. I currently write for Foreign Policy and am a Global Fellow with the Wilson Center in Washington.