Ukraine president Viktor F. Yanukovich accused of plagiarizing in new book

News reports say Yanukovich's book has passages that are sometimes identical to speeches by other politicians, magazine articles, and even a college paper.

Sindeyev Vladimir Itar-Tass Photos/Newscom
The English translator of Ukraine president Viktor F. Yanukovich's new book says that footnotes that might have sourced the material in question had been removed from the book to make it easier to read.

Viktor F. Yanukovich, the president of Ukraine, has been facing accusations that he plagiarized sections of his new book, titled “Opportunity Ukraine.”

Passages in Yanukovich’s book are said to closely resemble – and occasionally mimic, word for word – a speech by Communist Party Leader Petro Symonenko, a magazine article from the Ukrainian magazine Korrespondent, and a term paper available online via a Russian essay-sharing site.

The translator responsible for the book’s English version came forward after Yanukovich’s office said the charges of plagiarism were a “provocation” against the president. When the translator, Kostyantyn Vasylkevych, spoke on the charges, he said the book had had footnotes, but that he had deleted them in an effort to make the book easier to read. He extended an apology to the president and to any members of the media who were “disoriented by this mistake.” However, in answering the charges of the similarities of the book to previously published works, Vasylkevych said the president had merely been stating information that was common knowledge.

Vasylkevych said it was a shame the charges of plagiarism were being used in a “continuing, cynical anti-presidential campaign.” He has not commented further and will not release the original manuscript he translated.

The plagiarism charges were first leveled by a reporter for the online newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda, Serhiy Leshchenko.

“It turns out that Yanukovych’s book is banal plagiarism…. and compiled entire paragraphs of text, which previously came under the signature of different people,” Leshchenko wrote in the Sept. 2 article.

Leshchenko compares the text of Yanukovich’s book to the other articles, such as the excerpt from Korrespondent and the college essay.

“Whatever excuses the presidential administration is making, the fact of plagiarism is obvious,” Vitaly Sych, the editor-in-chief of Korrespondent, wrote in a blog post.

Because of the controversy, the Syndicate of Austrian Authors refused to support the book, which was published in Austria. The union condemned the book because the publisher refused to disclose information on the book’s publishing process, and the Syndicate did not support the book’s presentation at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Michael Baiculescu of the book’s publishing company, Mandelbaum Verlag, told the German weekly Die Zeit that Vasylkevch had told the company there were 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 said.

Hanna Herman, an adviser to the president, said the authors of the other works must have taken ideas from Yanukovich’s previous books and that the allegations were “shameless.”

Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.

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