Vladimir Gull is a freelance translator, often working for the U.N.
He is not a spy. Most people think he might be and several from both sides try hard to make him be one but he is no spy. He is a simultaneous translator, a man responsible for listening to one person speak and translating it instantly and on the fly to someone else. As such, he is very much in demand. This ability to listen and to think at the same time helps keep him alive on more than one occasion.
He had not always worked as an interpretor, however. In a former life, he was known as Vladimir Chaikov and was an ordinary soldier in the Red Army. When they invaded Hungary in 1956, Vladimir detested what he was ordered to do and decided to defect. His talent for languages and an inate ability to blend in helped as he assumed a new identity and worked his way into a new life in the West. Now, years later, he is a British citizen and able to come and go as he wishes. His skill as an interpreter is excellent and he is always in demand.
As a former Soviet, however, he can't help feel he is always being watched. Additionally, he does miss Mother Russia. Luckily, vodka can help deaden the homesickness and relieve the phobias.
Though he is not a spy, his job as a translator makes him a perfect candidate for getting involved in such activities, even if usually unintentionally. He also has a ingrained urge to help his friends, especially his female friends. He is not overly brave and certainly not the perfect fighting specimen but he is tenacious, resourceful, and sometimes bull-headed.