October 28, 2011

Book by Ukranian president found to be largely plagiarized


Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has been accused of plagiarism in his new book, according to a wire report from the Associated Press. “Some parts of Opportunity Ukraine bear a striking resemblance to magazine articles, a lawmaker’s speech and even a college term paper” says the report. “Opponents accuse Yanukovych of plagiarism, and an influential writers’ union in Austria, where the book was published, refused to support its presentation at the Frankfurt Book Fair this month.”

The AP report continues,

Yanukovych’s office first denied the accusations of plagiarism, calling them a “provocation” against the president sponsored by his critics. But then the translator of the book into English took the blame upon himself, saying he had inadvertently deleted most of the footnotes from the book and apologized to the president.

The book scandal is a further embarrassment to the often crude and ill-mannered Yanukovych, who is famous for gaffes and blunders such as making spelling mistakes, confusing genocide with genetic pool, and mixing up the Balkan states of Kosovo and Montenegro.

It also undermines his efforts to portray himself as a Western-minded leader as he seeks European Union membership for Ukraine.

“A book by a president is the height of his career, his life’s path,” said Serhiy Leshchenko, a reporter with the online newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda, who broke the story. “This could have been Yanukovych’s literary embodiment, but it turned out to be banal plagiarism. They grabbed pieces from various sources.”

It’s bad timing for Yanukovych. The US and EU are condemning Ukrainian officials for the prosecution and imprisonment of a longtime Yanukovych foe — former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Leshchenko tole the AP, “He became suspicious when the book compared reforms in Ukraine not to those in other ex-Communist East European nations, but to reforms in a country as distant and unlike Ukraine as Singapore. After some research, Leshchenko traced those descriptions to a March article by the Ukrainian weekly magazine Korrespondent.The Korrespondent story and the passage on reforms on Singapore in Yanukovych’s book are indeed nearly word-for-word the same.” The AP reports further:

Austria’s Mandelbaum Verlag printed 50,000 copies of “Opportunity Ukraine” in the run-up to the 20th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence on Aug. 24. The English-language book appears to have been aimed at attracting foreign investment.

Mandelbaum Verlag publisher Michael Baiculescu declined to comment on the allegations to The Associated Press. But he told the German weekly Die Zeit that there were indeed problems with the book.

“The translator told us that some parts, while not plagiarism, are not always properly sourced, since the footnotes are left out,” Baiculescu was quoted as saying.

The Syndicate of Austrian Authors condemned the book because of those accusations and because the publisher refused to provide full information on the book and how it was published. The 3,500-member group also refused to support the book because that would be tacit backing of Yanukovych’s undemocratic policies, it said in a statement.

Yanukovych’s office declined to discuss the matter with the AP, but previous comments on the book have been contradictory.


Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.