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Book Fair Blow For Ukrainian President Over Plagiarism Claims

Yanukovych's book had been billed as a practical guide to Ukraine for prospective investors.
An influential Austrian writers' association has expressed concern that some parts of a recently published book by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych may have been plagiarized, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Gerhard Ruiss, a spokesperson for IG Autorinnen Autoren, told RFE/RL on September 13 that the association found out about the controversy from Western media reports and has decided not to publicize the book at the prestigious Frankfurt Book Fair in October.

Yanukovych announced in August that his book "Opportunity Ukraine" had been published by Austria's Mandelbaum Verlag. The book, published in English, is described as a "practical guide for prospective investors."

The Ukrainska Pravda website reported earlier this month that "Opportunity Ukraine" reproduces material from several Ukrainian journalists and politicians, and even a student thesis, without acknowledging them.

Officials first rejected those accusations, with presidential adviser Hanna Herman calling them a "provocation" organized by an unnamed person without any morals.

Last week, translator Kostyantyn Vasylkevych took the blame for the sourcing omissions. He claimed to have voluntarily removed most references in order to make the book more "reader friendly."

Vasylkevych has thus far refused to explain in detail what happened or to make available the original manuscript (in Ukrainian and Russian) from which he worked.

Observers say the translated text must have been checked by an editor against the original.

Ruiss told RFE/RL that the suspicions should be scrupulously investigated in light of Ukraine's aspirations to join the European Union.

He also expressed concern about reports that the Ukrainian government is cracking down on press freedom.

"We in Austria have been supporting press freedom for years, and we cannot say that we support dissidents in China and do not support our colleagues in Ukraine," Ruiss said. "That is impermissible."

The Ukrainian presidential office has ignored repeated requests by RFE/RL for comment on the plagiarism accusations.

Earlier this year, "Ukrainska Pravda" accused National Defense and Security Council Secretary Raisa Bohatyrova of plagiarism, pointing to striking similarities between one of her public speeches and one by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Read more in Ukrainian here