Looking at this multi-track CV, an American visitor to this website might naturally have a question about my occupation. What am I: a scholar, journalist, documentary film writer and producer, researcher, editor or translator? The answer would be that I happen to be all of these things and, probably, more.
Trained as a historian specializing in the US Modern and Contemporary History, I spent full 30 years at a Moscow think-tank, the Institute of US and Canada Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, eventually becoming an expert in US domestic policy, particularly in racial and ethnic problems, civil and constitutional rights and the history of the US landmark court cases. Writing history and political analysis behind the Iron Curtain had taken inventive approaches to uncovering documentation – making me into an investigative researcher.
Besides writing as a scholar, I simultaneously wrote features and comments for Russian magazines and dailies, Radio Moscow and Agency Press ‘Novosti’ (now Russian Information Agency - RIAN). Besides, I had acquired editing skills and accomplished my translation skills learned in the Russian ROTC equivalent military translator training.
The collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequent monetary reforms had reduced my scholarly occupation to a hobby. To remain in the profession and to earn a living, I had to become a de facto free-lancer, and soon found myself free-lancing for US and US-funded non-profits.
With time, I began free-lancing for US clients and much later British authors, including library, archival and investigative research and interviewing.
From early 1992, I got involved in archival and stock footage research for Western producers, beginning with ABC Nightline. Almost simultaneously, this expanded into a full-scale investigative project to uncover the true story behind the landmark Rosenberg atomic espionage case from the early Cold War period. Four years of investigative research and interviewing resulted in a documentary produced for the Discovery, Inc. and made me into an espionage investigative historian and documentary film producer. Later I worked as Russian production coordinator and field producer for a number of western producers on documentary productions, including for History Channel, PBS and Nova. In the process, I’ve accomplished my interviewing techniques and archival and stock footage research skills and as well acquired such production skills as production coordination, location research and shoots, re-creation shoots and dramatizations.
In 2002, after 10 years of working for Western producers, I was asked to be the writer for a Russian documentary, and in 2003 I was invited by the Russian major TV channel, RUSSIA, to produce a documentary “special” (based on my own investigation in Russia and the USA) and, next, a 3-part serial on the history of the 20th century US-Russian espionage confrontation. Given the Russian shoe-string production budgets, cash kick-offs and simple pilfering along the production chain, I ended up as not only the writer and director (as per my contracts), but also my own producer, interviewer, archival and stock footage researcher (both in Russia and the USA), location researcher, and de facto director of editing and music editor.
Terrified by the Russian TV production experience, I accepted an offer from The Nation Institute’s Alger Hiss project to undertake a full time archival research to uncover any Hiss-related and background information in Russian archival depositories and, later, to conduct follow up research in the US archives. My website DocumentsTalk.com was an attempt to make use of at least some of the huge amount of documentation resulting out of this project.
My most recently explored field has been genealogical research – resulting from an attempt to build my own family tree, still underway