I am a Post-Doctoral Associate at the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM), and an Adjunct Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis and the Free Russia Foundation. I hold a Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University.My research focus is the democratic backsliding and the spread of populist actors in East Central Europe. My dissertation explains the success of these parties in the region as a function of the economic policy choices made by left-leaning parties of the post-Communist era. I also explore the commonality in factors underlying the decline of leftist parties and the rise of populist right across Europe.My main research interests also include Russia’s domestic and foreign policy, the political situation in Ukraine, and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. In particular, I research how the factors of Russia’s domestic politics affect its foreign policy dynamics.Throughout my time in the doctoral program, I have collaborated with the Institute for the Study of War, the Brookings Institution, the National Endowment for Democracy, Eurasia Group, and Freedom House. I have authored several reports and studies, including “Stifling the Public Sphere: Media and Civil Society: Russia,” for the National Endowment for Democracy; and “Putin’s Information Warfare in Ukraine. Soviet Origins of Russia’s Hybrid Warfare. Analytical Report,” for the Institute for the Study of War.My publications have appeared in peer-reviewed journals, the Washington Post‘s political science blog the Monkey Cage; the Huffington Post; the New Republic; Politico; and the American Interest. My research has been referenced in publications such as the New York Times, Bloomberg, the Economist, the Dish, and the Telegraph. I am frequently invited to give talks at U.S. universities and think tanks, including the Kennan Institute at Wilson Center, the Atlantic Council and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Comparative Political Institutions
Religion & Politics
Political Parties and Interest Groups
Former Soviet Union
My scholarly interests include the comparative study of electoral systems, democratic backsliding, European political economy, right wing politics, and Russia’s domestic politics, with a focus on the application of social science methods to my topics of interest.In my dissertation, I researched the supply-side factors that explain the success of populist right parties in Europe by bringing bring together various streams of scholarship on party realignment, political opportunity structures, populism, and party convergence. It is often theorized that Central European party systems diverge from those in Western Europe due to their volatility and fluidity. My research demonstrates that volatility and fluidity is not intrinsic to these systems; the basic ingredients for stable socioeconomic cleavages were present at the start of the transition from Communism. It was only after post-Communist left parties enacted market liberalization policies and austerity reforms, that the resulting party dealignment created volatility and pushed traditionally leftist constituencies toward the populist right.In addition to my research on European party systems, I have been studying Russia’s domestic and foreign policy for several years. In particular, I study the impact of sociotropic concerns onsupport for the Kremlin’s military interventions abroad. I have found that heightened concerns about economic well-being decrease the salience of Russia’s military adventures among the Russian population. I also researched how the factors of Russia’s domestic politics (petrostate) affect its foreign policy dynamics. Using content analysis techniques to classify Russian presidential speeches and correlating the resulting data to factors typically invoked as explanations for Russia’s behavior on the international stage (including economic growth, NATO expansion, and oil rent availability), I uncovered that high oil revenues may be contributing to Russia’s anti-Western escalatory rhetoric.