Dmitry Vladimirovich Kuznetsov
Dima was born in 1979 in Moscow. His mother is Galina Ivanovna Kuznetsova, a medical doctor who dabbles in philology, especially the study of poetry, as a hobby. His father, Vladimir Dmitriyevich Kuznetsov, was a Red Army officer who was killed in Afghanistan in 1980.
Dima is, as you would expect, tall and fit, with light skin and brown hair and eyes. Like most Russians, he has a vaguely biracial appearance, with Northern European coloring and more than a hint of Central Asian bone structure. Since as a romantic lead he has to be good-looking, I imagine him as looking something like the actor Danila Kozlovsky.
Like most Soviet/Russian men, Dima started his mandatory two years of military service at the age of 18, from 1997 to 1999. He was just finishing up his mandatory term when the Second Chechen War broke out. This, plus the lack of economic opportunities, led to him re-enlisting, this time as an OMON officer. He served in OMON until 2004, much of the time in Chechnya.
During his time in Chechnya, Dima witnessed (and perhaps participated in?) a number of heinous human rights abuses. Thoroughly disenchanted with OMON, the war, and the current regime, he resigned from OMON and became a journalist, getting his journalism degree in night/correspondence school while working as both a journalist for the opposition newspaper Nezavisimaya Pravda (Independent Truth) and a security guard or bouncer in order to bring in some extra cash.
Dima met Rowena in early 2005 when he was asked to give evidence regarding the mistreatment of Chechen civilians. They immediately began dating, and became engaged (he proposed, FYI and FWIW) in 2007. Dima’s precarious status as an opposition journalist was a major impetus for Rowena to return to the US and start grad school, with the goal of providing some form of stability and safety for the family.
Although Dima is a fictional character, aspects of his biography are based on real life examples. Nezavisimaya Gazeta is loosely based the real-world opposition paper Novaya Gazeta, and bits of Dima’s story are inspired by current and former Novaya Gazeta and Kommersantъ journalists Anna Politkovskaya, Yuliya Latynina, Arkady Babchenko, Zakhar (Yevgeny) Prilepin, and Oleg Kashin, all of whom get name-dropped throughout the books. For example, Zakhar Prilepin was also an OMON officer before becoming a journalist, Yuliya Latynina’s family was threatened, Yuliya Latynina and Arkady Babchenko have both had to flee the country, and Oleg Kashin was severely beaten for his activities. Also, Dima’s reference to “a few insignificant injuries and minor threats to my life from my Ukrainian brothers before I was able to convince them of my journalistic credentials” in Permanent Position was inspired by Arkady Babchenko’s own experience of being captured, beaten, and subjected to a mock execution by Ukrainian forces in 2014. Furthermore, the threat of being assassinated like Anna Politkovskaya hangs over his head.
Dima only appears by hearsay and a few cryptic emails in the first few books in the series, but is constantly on Rowena’s mind. Rowena’s brother John thoroughly disapproves of him, and hopes that he’ll disappear from her life completely. But when true love is in the mix, all bets are off…