Meet the economic radical

Reporters on the Job: When I arrived in Latvia, there was one person I had to interview: Economics professor Dmitrijs Smirnovs, who had been jailed for speaking frankly about the economy (read the story here). I had read an item about his run-in with authorities, but I didn’t know how to find him. So, I posted to a few Latvian blogs and tracked down his e-mail.

Arriving at the bus station in Ventspils, I was expecting someone much older, a classic, bearded academic. But Mr. Smirnovs was my age, his hair tucked under a ski cap, wearing a suit and tennis shoes. He hardly looked the part. And the first thing he told me was how too many decisionmakers in the country still followed the old Soviet mentality.

Smirnovs has become a minor celebrity in Latvia since his detainment. But if his university views him as a rising star, you wouldn’t know it. He has to ask for the keys to his office from a building monitor.

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