Pavel Astakhov Charged with Plagiarism of His Dissertation

April 8, 2013
Journalist Sergei Parkhomenko Photo: Gleb Shchelkunov / Kommersant

Sergei Parkhomenko has posted a detailed excerpt of the Ph.D. thesis of child ombudsman Pavel Astakhov, titled “Legal Conflicts and Contemporary Forms of Their Resolution.”

As Parkhomenko claims, Astakhov’s dissertation was practically completely falsified.

Kommersant: How was this dissertation verified?

SP: It was verified in the same way that an enormous numbers of dissertations are verified now at Dissernet. This site has dozens and perhaps hundreds of people who use the web to join this collaborative task, and it is practically a conveyor technology. First, a potential plagiarist is identified, then the texts of his dissertation are obtained. That is quite easy, as they are accessible in electronic form.

First they are run through two different programs. One of them is the well-known AntiPlagiat, and the second is called “Professor Rostovtsev’s DissChopper”. The well-known Russian physicist Andrei Rostovtsev has written a special program for such searches. Thus, potential directions of research are determined, the list of questionable documents is defined, apparently from where the massive borrowing was, and then a person gets involved.

Without human participation and human brains, nothing would come of it— it is a very large, scrupulous work of a large group of people. I simply published it, and summarized and systematized it somewhat. But of course, this discovery isn’t mine, but that of the large community.

Kommersant: Do you know what Mr. Astakhov’s reaction to this has been?

SP: No, I don’t know anything about it. Perhaps you know something but I haven’t heard or seen anything, although quite recently I glanced at the Internet, but I didn’t find any trace of Mr. Astakhov and his reactions.

Kommersant: What result are you expecting?

SP: I am counting on a very simple result. I report information of public interest to people. In my view, it is more important, it is better that people know this about Astakhov, especially because he is in the public eye in any event. For several months now, we have observed him as one of the main actors in the so-called anti-Magnitsky scandal, stories involving all sorts of orphans and so on. So it is better that people know this about Astakhov than not know this about Astakhov. I see that as my job.

Further, I very much hope that at some moment in Russia a mechanism of so-called political accountability will be formed of its own accord. It will be formed when voters begin to pay attention to these details, when they began to establish the reputation of various politicians based on what they know and recall about him. Then this political accountability will go into effect automatically, as it goes into effect in Germany, for example, where several similar exposures of [plagiarized] dissertations also took place recently.