Welcome to Professor Maria Popova's hub for research, teaching, and public outreach on issues related to democracy, corruption, and the rule of law in Europe. Prof. Popova's current research focuses on the Russo-Ukrainian war and Ukraine's road to EU accession.

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In February 2022, Russian missiles rained on Ukrainian cities, and tanks rolled towards Kyiv to end Ukrainian independent statehood. President Zelensky declined a Western evacuation offer and Ukrainians rallied to defend their country. What are the roots of this war, which has upended the international legal order and brought back the spectre of nuclear escalation? How did these supposedly “brotherly peoples” become each other’s worst nightmare?
In Russia and Ukraine: Entangled Histories, Diverging States, Maria Popova and Oxana Shevel explain how since 1991 Russia and Ukraine diverged politically, ending up on a collision course. Russia slid back into authoritarianism and imperialism, while Ukraine consolidated a competitive political system and pro-European identity. As Ukraine built a democratic nation-state, Russia refused to accept it and came to see it as an “anti-Russia” project. After political and economic pressure proved ineffective, and even counterproductive, Putin went to war to force Ukraine back into the fold of the “Russian world.” Ukraine resisted, determined to pursue European integration as a sovereign state. These irreconcilable goals, rather than geopolitical wrangling between Russia and the West over NATO expansion, are – the authors argue – essential to understanding Russia’s war on Ukraine.



November 24, 2023
‘We do fear an armed conflict in Ukraine,’ Justin Trudeau says

By Tonda MacCharles January 19th, 2022 Toronto Star Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Email Print Copy article link Save OTTAWA — The Canadian government says it is ready with further diplomatic and economic sanctions on Russia and more support for Ukraine as part of an intensifying multilateral effort to deter any Russian incursion in that country. But […]

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November 25, 2021
Bulgaria's 3rd parliamentary elections for 2021

Bulgarians went to the polls three times in 2021 and the summary of the results goes something like this: 6-7 parties in each parliament 4 brand new parties (ITN, IBNI, We Continue the Change, Revival) 3 different election winners (GERB, ITN, We Continue the Change) 2 failed attempts at cabinet formation (GERB-Mitov, ITN-Nikolov) 1 giant […]

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August 16, 2021
Prof Popova takes part in Bergen Exchanges round table on autocratic legalism
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About Prof. Popova

Maria Popova (PhD, Harvard) is Associate Professor of Political Science at McGill University and Scientific Director of the Jean Monnet Centre Montreal. Her work explores rule of law and democracy in Eastern Europe. Her first book Politicized Justice in Emerging Democracies, which won the American Association for Ukrainian Studies book prize in 2013, examines the weaponization of law to manipulate elections and control the media in Russia and Ukraine. Her recent articles have focused on judicial and anticorruption reform in post-Maidan Ukraine, the politics of anticorruption campaigns in Eastern Europe, conspiracies, and illiberalism. Her new book (co-authored with Oxana Shevel), on the roots of the Russo-Ukrainian war, entitled “Russia and Ukraine: Entangled Histories, Diverging States” is now available from Polity Press.
Copyright © 2023 Alex O'Neill.