Vitaly Portnikov was born on May 14-th 1967 in Kyiv.
He started contributing to the local press while studying in school, beginning from 1983.
In 1985 he began his study at the Faculty of Philology at the Dnipro National University (Dnipropetrovsk State University then), and in 1988 he was continued his education at the Faculty of Journalism of the Moscow State University. He graduated from this university in 1990.
Since 1988 he worked as a Moscow-based correspondent for the newspaper "Molod Ukrajiny", later - for the Ukrainian weekly "Dzerkalo tuzhnya" and "Day" newspaper.
He also collaborated with a Russian, Belarusian, Latvian, Estonian, Polish, and Israeli media.
Since 1990 he has been working for Radio Liberty as a correspondent of the Ukrainian bureau in Moscow, and later as Radio and TV host for both Russian and Ukrainian bureaus.
From June 2006 till October 2007 he worked as the editor-in-chief of the Ukrainian daily newspaper "Gazeta 24".
He also hosted informational and analytical programs on several Ukrainian TV channels, namely "Windows to the World" and "Windows Weekly" at STB, "Seventh Day" at ICTV, "VIP" at K-1, "Vitaly Portnikov's Pravda" at TVi.
Since November 2013 he hosts the program "Politclub" at Espresso TV channel.