MOSCOW, January 28 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s flamboyant children’s rights ombudsman faced fresh accusations of plagiarism Tuesday after a study found that a third of his doctoral dissertation amounted to “incorrect borrowings.”
The review by the respected Russian State Library found that about 31 percent of Pavel Astakhov’s dissertation on the resolution of legal conflicts had come from other sources. Another third had reused work previously done by Astakhov.
Only a third of the dissertation included correctly attributed borrowings. In all, 99.3 percent of his work in the paper came from different sources, according to the study, details of which were published by activist Sergei Parkhomenko on his blog.
Astakhov also appeared to have invented some of the publications he cited in the bibliography of his PhD dissertation, the report said.
The children’s ombudsman’s office said in a terse statement Tuesday that state authorities had found the dissertation at the time of his defense to be 80 percent original and qualifying for a degree.
A library spokeswoman said Tuesday the study was “unofficial,” Lenta.ru news website reported.
Astakhov was first accused of plagiarism in April 2013 by Dissernet, Parkhomenko’s grassroots group that has exposed alleged academic theft in works by dozens of high-ranking officials. The ombudsman, who was appointed to the Kremlin post in 2009, dismissed the criticisms, saying that his PhD dissertation was based on his own Masters paper.
Dissernet then commissioned the latest study by the Russian State Library.
Astakhov, 47, cannot be stripped of his academic degree because the statute of limitations has expired. Dissernet only published the Russian State Library’s report, made in June, after the government refused to fire Astakhov, Parkhomenko said.
Dissernet has previously identified what it says is plagiarism in works by Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin and several federal legislators. Most have denied the allegations.
Many Russian officials tout academic degrees, but critics say those are often fabricated. About 10 percent of doctoral theses on history defended in Russia since 2000 appear plagiarized, borrowing 70 percent of text from other dissertations, the Russian State Library said in September.
Astakhov, a former lawyer, is primarily known for backing the 2012 ban on US adoptions of Russian children, which critics call politically motivated.
He has made frequent allegations that US families have abused children adopted from Russia.
A graduate of the Dzerzhinsky Higher School of the KGB, the Soviet spy agency, Astakhov received a Master of Laws degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a PhD in Russia in 2006.