Simon Pirani (1955 - )

Trotskyist, researcher, lecturer and journalist

Simon was born and raised in London, and after concluding his college education in 1974 he began his career in journalism working as a reporter, freelance book editor and sub-editor at a range of newspapers, magazines and publishing houses, from 1974 to 1988.

After a year in the Young Communist League he became a member of the Workers Revolutionary Party in 1972 and rose to become a prominent member. He left the Party in 1985, and was in its largest offshoot group until the early 90s.

From 1988 to 1997 he worked as a freelance sub-editor and journalist, at the Sunday Mirror from 1989 to 2000 as a part-time staff sub-editor, on the Guardian business pages (1991-1997) and the Observer business pages (1996-97). During these years he frequently travelled to Russia and Ukraine, Vietnam in 1989 and Turkey in 1991, and wrote in the Guardian, Glasgow Herald, Scotsman, Wales on Sunday and elsewhere about these travels.

He worked as the freelance editor of the Miner, the bi-monthly journal of the National Union of Mineworkers (1990-1995), and before that as the Editor of the North East Miner (1988-1990).

From 1997–1998 Pirani was assistant editor at Metal Bulletin, the business information service for the metals industry.

In 1997 he graduated with a BA (Russian Studies) degree (first-class honours) at London University (School of Slavonic and East European Studies). In 2006 he obtained a PhD from the University of Essex (History Department) for my dissertation, the changing political relationship between the Moscow workers and the Bolsheviks 1920-24.

From 1998-2007 he wrote mainly on energy, business and finance in the former USSR, and occasionally on wider international business issues. I contributed to the financial magazines Emerging Markets, Trade Finance and Project Finance and various industry journals. I wrote occasionally on Russia for the Guardian, the Observer, Financial News and Economist Intelligence Unit publications.

He has also worked on media freedom projects in the former USSR supported by the International Federation of Journalists. He co-authored three reports, issued by the IFJ in 2004, 2005 and 2007 on the case of the murdered Ukrainian journalist Gyorgy Gongadze.

Although now working mainly as an academic researcher, he continues to contribute occasionally to specialist business publications, including Emerging Markets, Gas Matters and Italian Gas and Power, and worked as Associate Editor of Emerging Markets from 2006 to 2011.

From 2007 to the current day he is a Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute of Energy Studies (a Recognised Independent Centre of the University of Oxford), on the Natural Gas Research Programme.

At present he continues to teach courses on 'Russia and the Soviet Union, 1861-2000: revolution, continuity and change' and 'The Russian revolution 1917-1921', to undergraduate students in the history department of Canterbury Christ Church University. I have taught these courses since 2012-13, and have worked as a sessional lecturer at the university since 2008, lecturing on modern European history and occasionally on environmental history.

Simon is also a member of the editorial board of Debatte: Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe.