Maria Popova

Academic title(s): 

Associate Professor

Director, Jean Monnet Centre Montreal


Maria Popova
Contact Information

855 Sherbrooke St. W.
Montreal, Quebec
H3A 2T7

Ferrier 462

BA, Dartmouth

MA, PhD, Harvard

Curriculum vitae: 
Research areas: 
Comparative Government and Politics

Maria Popova is an Associate Professor of Political Science at McGill University and Scientific Director of the Jean Monnet Centre Montreal. She also serves as Editor of the Cambridge Elements Series on Politics and Society from Central Europe to Central Asia. Her work explores the 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 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:


Comparative politics, European politics (Ukraine, Bulgaria, Russia), post-Communist transformation, courts and politics, corruption and anticorruption.

Areas of interest: 
  • European Politics: rule of law, populism, corruption, anti-establishment parties, EU accession, protest, Ukraine, Bulgaria.
  • Comparative Judicial Politics: judicial independence, global expansion of judicial power, post-communist judicial reforms, politics of corruption prosecutions.
  • Russian politics: authoritarian consolidation, weaponization of law.
Professional activities: 
  • Scientific Co-Director, Jean Monnet Centre Montreal
  • Editor, Cambridge Elements Series, Politics and Society from Central Europe to Central Asia
Current research: 
  • The Russo-Ukrainian War
  • Ukraine's Road to EU Accession: judicial and anticorruption reform
  • Prosecution of political corruption in the Balkans and East Central Europe
Selected publications: 


Russia and Ukraine: Entangled Histories, Diverging States. London. Polity Press. 2023.

Politicized Justice in Emerging Democracies: A Study of Courts in Russia and Ukraine. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2012.

Winner, 2012-2013 American Association for Ukrainian Studies prize for best book in the fields of Ukrainian history, politics, language, literature, and culture. Featured in a Critical Dialogue in Perspectives on Politics and reviewed in 11 other journals in comparative politics, area studies, law, and anthropology.

Journal Articles

  1. “Civil Society as an Informal Institution in Ukraine’s Judicial Reform Process,” German Law Journal, 24(8), pp. 1488-1502. With Serhii Lashyn and Anastasia Leshchyshyn.
  2. My Grandfather Said “Screw the Communists, But We All Have to Vote for Them",” (2022) Journal of Narrative Politics 8 (2).
  3. “Will the Real Conspiracy Please Stand Up: Sources of Post-Communist Democratic Failure,” (2022) Perspectives on Politics, 20 (1): 222 - 236. With Nikolay Marinov
  4. "Can a Leopard Change its Spots? Strategic Behavior vs. Professional Role Conception During Ukraine's 2014 Court Chair Elections" (2020) Law & Policy, Vol. 42, Iss. 4, pp. 365-381.
  5. "No Revolution of Dignity for Ukraine’s Judges: Judicial Reform After Maidan” (2020) Demokratizatsiya 28 (1): 113-142. With Daniel Beers
  6. “Prosecuting High-Level Corruption in Eastern Europe.” (2018) Communist and Post-Communist Studies 51( 3): 231-244. With Vincent Post.
  7. "Putin-Style “Rule of Law” & the Prospects for Change." Daedalus, Vol. 146, No. 2 (2017), pp. 64-75
  8. “Fear and Loathing on the Post-Communist Street: Why Bulgaria's DANSwithme Protest Fizzled out, but Ukraine's Euromaidan Escalated,” Critique and Humanism, Vol. 46, No. 2 (2016), pp. 109-127. A Bulgarian version: „Страх и омраза на посткомунитическите улици: защо българския протест ДАНС затихва, а украинският Евромайдан ескалира?,“ кн. 45, бр. 1/2016, стр. 107-129.
  9. “Die Entwicklung der ukrainischen Justiz seit dem Euromaidan,” Transit: Europaische Revue, Vol. 48 (Winter 2015/Fruhling 2016), pp. 136-156.
  10. “Why the Orange Revolution Was Short and Peaceful and Euromaidan Long and Violent” Problems of Post-Communism, Vol. 61 (November-December 2014), No. 6, pp. 64-70.
  11. “Why Doesn’t the Bulgarian Judiciary Prosecute Corruption?” Problems of PostCommunism, Vol. 59, No. 5 (September-October, 2012), pp. 35-49.
  12. “Political Competition as an Obstacle to Judicial Independence: Evidence from Russia and Ukraine”, Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 43, Issue 10 (October 2010), pp. 1202-1229.
  13. “Be Careful What You Wish For: A Cautionary Tale of Post-Communist Judicial Empowerment” Demokratizatsiya, Vol.18, No. 1 (Winter 2010), pp. 56-73.
  14. “Watchdogs or Attack Dogs? The Role of the Russian Courts and the CEC in the Resolution of Electoral Disputes”, Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 58, No. 3 (May 2006), pp. 391-414.
  15. "Implicit Objections to the Rule of Law Doctrine in Russian Legal Thought", Journal of East European Law, Vol. 11, Nos. 2-3 (2004), pp. 205-229.
  16. “Rossiiskaya Pravovaya Mysl' i Printsip Verkhovenstva Prava: Problemy Adaptatsii i Neobkhodimost' Dialoga”, Konstitutsionnoe Pravo: Vostochnoevropeiskoe Obozrenie, Vol. 3, 44 (2003).

Book Chapters

  1. “Judicialization of Corruption” in Macedo Pinto de Sousa, Luis and Susana Coroado (eds.) Encyclopaedia in Corruption and Society. 2024. Elgar, pp. 169-173.

  2. “Russia’s Invasion and Ukraine’s Resistance” in Hale, Henry, Juliet Johnson, and Tomila Lankina (eds.) Developments in Russian Politics 10. 2024. Bloomsbury. With Oxana Shevel.

  3. “Politicization of Courts in European Democracies” in Howard, Robert, Rebecca A. Reid, and Kirk M. Randazzo (eds.) Research Handbook on Law and Political Systems. 2023. Elgar, pp. 170-186. With Christine Rothmayr Allison.

  4. “Ukraine Between National Security and the Rule of Law” in Palko, Olena and Manuel Ferez, eds. Ukraine’s Many Faces. 2023. Transcript verlag and Columbia University Press, pp. 291-296; Spanish version published as “Ucrania: Entre la seguridad nacional y el Estado de Derecho” in Palko, Olena and Manuel Ferez, Descubriendo Ucrania. Su pueblo, su historia y su cultura, Poliedro Editorial de la Universidad de San Isidro, pp. 187-191.

  5. “Garantir la sécurité à long terme de l’Ukraine” in Le Réveil Européen et Transatlantique. 2022. Ed. des Equateurs. With Oxana Shevel

  6. “The Post-Communist Judiciary: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” in Engelbrekt, K. and Petia Kostadinova (eds.), Bulgaria’s Democratic Institutions at Thirty: A Balance Sheet (Lexington Books, 2020).

  7. “Prosecuting Corruption in Eastern Europe” (with Vincent Post) in Solomon, P. and Kaja Gadowska (eds.), Legal Change in Post-Communist States: Progress, Reversions, Explanations. Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society Series, (ibidem Press, 2019)

  8. “Journalists, Judges and State Officials: How Russian Courts Adjudicate Defamation Lawsuits Against Media” in Kurkchiyan, M. and Agnieszka Kubal (eds.), A Sociology of Justice in Russia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), pp. 141-169.
  9. “Ukraine’s Politicized Courts” in Hale, H. E. and Robert W. Orttung (eds.), Beyond the Euromaidan: Comparative Perspectives for Advancing Reform in Ukraine (Redwood City: Stanford University Press, 2016), pp. 143-161.
  10. “Who Brought Ataka to the Political Scene: Analysis of the Vote for Bulgaria’s Radical Nationalists” in Dragostinova, T. and Yana Hashamova (eds.), Beyond Mosque, Church, and State: Alternative Narratives of the Nation in the Balkans (Budapest and New York: Central European University Press, 2016), pp. 259-287.
  11. “Politizirovannoe pravosudie v novykh demokratiyakh: politicheskaya bor’ba i sudebnaya nezavisimost’ v Rossii i Ukraine” in Volkov, V. (ed.), Kak Sud’i Prinimayut Resheniya: Empiricheskie Issledovaniya Prava (Moscow: Statut, 2012), pp. 199-224.

Shorter Academic Writing

  1. “Ukraine’s Judiciary After Euromaidan.” Comparative Politics Newsletter Vol. 25, No. 2 (Fall 2015), pp. 32-36.
  2. “The 2014 Parliamentary Elections in Bulgaria.” Electoral Studies, Vol.38 (June 2015), pp. 114-118. With Petia Kostadinova.
  3. “The 2013 parliamentary elections in Bulgaria.” Electoral Studies, Vol. 34 (June 2014), pp. 365-368. With Petia Kostadinova.
  4. “Post-Communist Courts: Independence, Accountability, and Popular Trust,” Guest Editor’s Introduction, Problems of Post-Communism, vol. 59, no. 5 (SeptemberOctober 2012), pp. 3-5.

Policy Articles, Blog Posts and Op-eds

  1. “Il ne faut pas abandonner les Ukrainiens” La Presse, February 23, 2024. With Justin Massie.
  2. Time is on Ukraine’s Side, Not Russia’s” Just Security, December 21, 2022. With Oxana Shevel.
  3. How Can Ukraine’s Long-Term Security Be Guaranteed?” PONARS Policy Exchange, June 3, 2022. With Oxana Shevel.
  4. The Ukraine Crisis May Reinvigorate Eastern European Democracies” Washington Post Monkey Cage Blog, May 23, 2022. With Nikolay Marinov.
  5. Was NATO Enlargement a Mistake? Foreign Affairs Asks the Experts,” Foreign Affairs, April 19, 2022.
  6. How Canada Can Help Ukraine by Leading on the World Stage,” Policy Options, March 31, 2022.
  7. Ukraine Belongs in the EU,” Journal of Democracy, March 18, 2022. With Oxana Shevel.
  8. Putin’s War Was Never Actually About NATO,” Just Security (reprinted in Slate), February 24, 2022. With Oxana Shevel
  9. Putin Cannot Erase Ukraine: No Russian Invasion Can Undo Ukrainian Nationhood,” Foreign Affairs, February 17, 2022. With Oxana Shevel.
  10. Dangerous Diplomacy: Why Placating Putin Now Could Doom Ukrainian Democracy Later” Journal of Democracy, February 14, 2022. With Oxana Shevel.
  11. The 2021 Bulgarian Election: A “QAnon” Turn for Eastern European Politics?” LSE EUROPP Blog, April 13, 2021 With Nikolay Marinov.
  12. "Das Trugbild vom Durchbruch zum Rechtsstaat: Justizreform nach der Revolution der Würde,” Ukraine-Analysen, Ausgabe 238, Oct 9, 2020. With Mykhailo Zhernakov
  13. “How Can the EU Help Ukraine Build the Rule of Law and Fight Corruption? Romania and Bulgaria as Guideposts,” PONARS Policy Memo, No. 469, April, 2017
  14. “Will There Be a “Full, Rapid and Transparent Investigation into Nemtsov’s Murder,” The Monkey Cage@The Washington Post, March 7, 2015
  15. “Ukraine’s Judicial Reforms,” VoxUkraine, December 15, 2014 (translated and reprinted by Ukrainska Pravda, December 17, 2014)
  16. “Ukraine’s Legal Problems: Why Kiev’s Plans to Purge the Judiciary Will Backfire,” Foreign Affairs, April 15, 2014
  17. “The Kremlin, Not Language, is Driving Ukraine Apart,” The Globe and Mail, April 15, 2014. With Matthew Light
  18. “What is Lustration and Is It a Good Idea for Ukraine to Adopt it?,” The Monkey Cage@ Washington Post, April 9, 2014 (reprinted by Kyiv Post). With Vincent Post.
  19. “Was Yanukovych’s Removal Constitutional?,” PONARS Eurasia Commentary, March 20, 2014
  20. “What Doesn’t Kill Ukraine…,” Foreign Policy, March 12, 2014. With Oxana Shevel
  21. “Why Domestic Developments in Ukraine Still Matter,” The Monkey Cage @ Washington Post, March 5, 2014
  22. “The Strange Court Case of Alexey Navalny,” The Monkey Cage, July 22, 2013
  • POLI 330: Law and Courts in Europe
  • POLI 331: Politics of East Central Europe and the Balkans
  • POLI 451: The European Union
  • POLI 639: Mixed Methods Research in European Studies
  • POLI 612: Research Methods in Political Science
Associate Professor
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