Putin Faces Plagiarism Accusation
Published: March 28, 2006 (Issue # 1156)
MOSCOW — Large parts of an economics thesis written by President Vladimir Putin in the mid-1990s were lifted straight out of a U.S. management textbook published 20 years earlier, The Washington Times reported Saturday, citing researchers at the Brookings Institution.
It was unclear, however, whether Putin had even read the thesis, which might have been intended to impress the Western investors who were flooding into St. Petersburg in the mid-1990s, the report said. Putin oversaw the city’s foreign economic relations at the time.
Clifford Gaddy, a senior fellow at Brookings, said 16 of the 20 pages that open the thesis’ key second section were taken from the Russian translation of the 1978 book “Strategic Planning and Policy” by University of Pittsburgh professors William King and David Cleland, the newspaper reported.
In addition, six diagrams and tables from the 218-page thesis also mimicked those in the book, which had been translated into Russian by a KGB-related institute in the early 1990s. “It all boils down to plagiarism,” The Washington Times reported Gaddy as saying. “Whether you’re talking about a college-level term paper, not to mention a formal dissertation, there’s no question in my mind that this would be plagiarism.”
Calls to the presidential administration went unanswered Sunday.
The official Kremlin biography says Putin obtained a Ph.D. in economics in 1997 from the St. Petersburg Mining Institute. It is unclear when Putin wrote the thesis, which Putin scholars have tried for years to examine and Brookings obtained by subscribing to a Moscow technical library that had a copy in its electronic files.
Putin cited the King-Cleland work among his 47 sources, but he did not indicate paragraphs and pages were being copied. The thesis, titled “The Strategic Planning of Regional Resources Under the Formation of Market Relations,” is largely an essay on how a state should manage its natural resources.
“Somebody was cutting corners, whether it was Mr. Putin or whoever cut and pasted the work for him,” said Gaddy, who worked with fellow Brookings researcher Igor Danchenko.
Dubious academic credential-building was common in Eastern Europe and especially in East Germany, where Putin once served as a KGB agent, E. Wayne Merry, senior associate at the American Foreign Policy Council, told The Washington Times.
“It was really quite common for an up-and-coming apparatchik to get a ghostwritten work done to obtain a degree,” he said. “It’s probably an open question whether Putin even read his dissertation until shortly before he had to defend it.”
Vladimir Litvinenko, the rector at the St. Petersburg Mining Institute when Putin obtained his degree, is now a key adviser to Putin on energy policy.