My ties to CREES date back to 1988, when I began my post-graduate research under the supervision of Professor Maureen Perrie. It was still a period when academics had time to spend hours discussing intellectual matters on a regular basis, and CREES was a leading centre where such discussions of the Russian and Soviet past and of dramatic contemporary changes, unfolding in front of our eyes, took place.
Dozens of people from all over Britain used to come to the CREES seminar and our discussions sometimes finished as late as 10 pm. A sense of an intellectual and personal community around CREES was strongly felt and so was a sense of tradition, particularly fostered by Professor Bob Davies who played such a big role in creating this community of scholars.
After receiving my PhD in 1993 I moved permanently to Britain, first to take up a lectureship at Salford University and then the Chair of Russian Studies at the University of Manchester. I keep coming back to CREES regularly either to attend seminars or to act as external examiner of undergraduate programmes and PhDs. Every time I am reminded how much I still identify with and feel a sense of belonging to the CREES community.