John Helmer is the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. He first set up his bureau in 1989, making him today the doyen of the foreign press corps in Russia.
His family has many links to Russia. The founding father was a soldier from Denmark in Napoleon’s Grande Armee, who in 1812 decided his chances of survival were greater if he didn’t try to keep Napoleon company on the return home. Other family members were killed by the Germans during the invasion of the Soviet Union of 1941.
Born and educated in Australia, then at Harvard University, Helmer has also been a professor of political science, of sociology, and of journalism, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia.
He is a regular presenter on Russian topics in China, Western Europe, and the United States, and at conferences organized by CRU, Center for Management Technologies, the Vicenza (Italy) Fair, and other industry conventions.
Before Russia, Helmer published several books in the US on military and political topics. Essays on the American presidency and on urban policy in the US followed in book compilations in 1981 and 1982; essays on Greek and Middle Eastern politics between 1986 and 1989. Since 1989 he has published almost exclusively on Russian topics.
Today Helmer is one of the most widely read Russian specialists in the business world for his news-breaking stories on Russian base and precious metals, diamonds, mining, shipping, insurance, food trade, and business policy. He is the accredited correspondent of Business Day and The Weekender of South Africa, and the sole reporter to Africa of Russian news.