Vitaliev was born in 1954 in KharkivUkraine. He graduated from Kharkiv University in French and English, working as an interpreter and translator before becoming a journalist in 1981. He worked as a special correspondent for Krokodil magazine in Moscow when he appeared as Clive James‘ ‘Moscow Correspondent’ on Saturday Night Clive. On 31 January 1990 he and his family ‘defected’, moving first to London, then taking up residence (and citizenship) in Australia. He is now back in England again, having lived and worked for some time in Edinburgh and Dublin.


Vitaliev’s journalism work in the former Soviet Union included stories and essays for OgonyokLiteraturnaya Gazeta and Nedelya as well as Krokodil, earning him the Golden Calf Literary Award, five annual Krokodil Awards, the Journalist of the Year Honorary Diploma for 1987 and the 1989 Ilf and Petrov Prize for Satirical Journalism. He has worked for newspapers in Australia, such as The Age; and for the Irish magazine Village. In the UK he was written and worked for PunchThe GuardianThe SpectatorThe EuropeanThe HeraldRussian London Courier and The Daily Telegraph. In 1997–98, he worked as Associate Editor of Transitions magazine, in 2006-07 – as Editor-at-Large of Entrepreneur magazine and from May 2007 was Features Editor of E&T magazine (circulation 160,000; distribution in 120 countries)- until his retirement in July 2020.

In June 2018, Vitaliev was appointed Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain (FRGS) and in 2021 – Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund and the RLF Writing Fellow and Teaching Associate at Magdalene & Wolfson Colleges, University of Cambridge. He is also a member of the International Travel Writers Alliance (MITWA) and the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE).


Vitaliev has written and presented several television documentaries for Channel 4, ABC and the BBC, including TasmaniaMoscow CentralVitali’s AustraliaMy Friend Little Ben (in BBC1’s Byline series, 1990) and The Train To Freedom – a program in the series Travels With My Camera (Channel 4, 1994). He has been a guest on After Dark and Have I Got News for You for the BBC, and for almost 3 years appeared regularly in Europe Direct, BBC World’s magazine programme on weekday evenings. His appearances on BBC Radio 4 include BreakawayExcess Baggage and his own series “Eye on the East”. In 2007, he was a researcher and script-writer for the BBC2 comedy quiz TV show QI.

In Progress – Due in 2024/25