Heiko Pleines is Head of the Department of Politics and Economics at the Research Centre for East European Studies and Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Bremen. After studies in London and Bochum, he received his doctoral degree at the Freie Universität Berlin and his Habilitation at the University of Bremen. He has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University, the Higher School of Economics (Moscow) and the Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting (Kiev). His research focuses on the role of non-state actors in political decision-making in Central and Eastern Europe. He regularly acts as an external country expert for government bodies and NGOs.