In Ukraine, It's the President Who Plagiarizes College Papers

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Following two months of rampant plagiarism charges from around the world, President Viktor F. Yanukovich just published the English translation of his first book. It's called "Opportunity Ukraine," and as the New York Times J. David Goodman points out, the publisher describes it as "a practical guide for prospective investors!" Among those Yanukovich is said to have ripped off: Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney, Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko, the Urkainian newsweekly Korrespondent, and--oh yes--a college student's paper on land reform that was "pulled off the internet," Goodman says. This news, on the same day that Ukraine is trying to pick a day to meet about being admitted into the European Union.

Typically, it's the college students who are pulling stuff from the Internet for their papers.  Or, as in a sultry little spat going on right now in which a Guardian Moscow correspondent is accusing a Reuters reporter of copying one of her stories, journalists plagiarizing each other. Usually, these kinds of stories receive mention in the media pages, somebody gets fined or fired and the world moves on. Not so when it involves the iron-fisted leader of a former Eastern Bloc country. Despite the fact that there's some debate over whether or not Yanukovich--who most certainly didn't write the book himself--actually plagiarized or just sourced poorly, politicians and political science professors around the globe are using the plagiarism accusation as an opportunity deliver (what may be deserved) digs at Yanukovich. The Times flags this passage from a Rutgers professor's blog post:

One possible explanation is that the Yanukovich people truly didn't know that what they were doing was plagiarism. Possible? Sure, but in that case these punks shouldn't be running a country. They should be shining shoes in Grand Central Station. You can forgive a regular guy's ignorance of quantum mechanics, but for the policy honchos of a big country not to know the elementary rules of citation is unpardonable.

The Associated Press, however, reports that at least some of the problems in the English language version were simply lost in translation:

But then the translator of the book, Kostyantyn Vasylkevych, acknowledged that he deleted most of the footnotes, including the one for the Korrespondent article, in an attempt to make the book more readable. In an article on a government-linked news website, Vasylkevych issued his "deepest" apologies to Yanukovych and those journalists who were "disoriented by this mistake," but he lamented that it was being used in a "continuing, cynical anti-presidential campaign."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.