Monday, September 5, 2011

Ghost writers, plagiarism and “Opportunity Ukraine”

With the recent appearance of a book entitled Opportunity Ukraine, apparently penned by Ukraine's current President Viktor Yanukovych, one thing is clear. Ukraine has in its core changed very little since Soviet times. The mindset set of copying someone else's creative work and passing their work off as one's own work remains deeply entrenched.

It is completely normal for a leader of any country to want to present a positive image of their country; however, Ukraine's image is not at all enhanced with the appearance of such a publication. Particularly in the eyes of astute individuals, and journalists in Ukraine who have picked up the fact that this book is nothing but plagiarism.

While this is important, there are a few other things that most would never even think of that are just as important.

Does anyone honestly think that Ukraine's incumbent president is capable of putting pen to paper, and actually writing? Let alone an entire book? If there is anyone out there who thinks so consider the following few points, and then consider if this was in fact possible. But on the lighter side, let’s not forget that for the current powers that be, it’s all a show! They really think it is Hollywood. They saw it in the movies, and usually B-Movies of the gangster genre, on the way they should present themselves and behave.

Firstly, and without even considering his questionable past, it is fact that individuals who occupied the positions which Viktor Fedorovych has held seldom wrote anything, they had minions who would do that 'dirty work' work for them. This was the way the system functioned, and to quite a great degree still functions today. Not that it is much different in many big bureaucracies in western democracies, but for the most part the mentality of understanding creative and intellectual property is well entrenched, and it is not uncommon that many politicians use their staff and even ghost writers in order put forth their own ideas.

Secondly, the book “Opportunity Ukraine” was published in English by Mandelbaum Verlag out of Vienna, Austria, a publisher that publishes primarily in German, with less than a handful of titles in English. In trying to present Ukraine in a positive light, would not one want to publish with a reputable English language publisher? But then again, most reputable publishers would want to stay as far away from plagiarism as possible. This was a simple business transaction, we pay you, and you print it.

Thirdly, the book's plug on the publisher's page states the book “is not a memoir. It is a manifesto of deep belief in one's motherland” and then later goes on to state:”This is a practical guide for prospective investors! Naturally, those who come to Ukraine first will reap the most benefits.” Unless it suggests on how to cuddle up with the oligarchs, how can anyone take these sales pitches serious, in a country where Rule of Law is ignored and handful of wealthy individuals, who have no scruples in using any means necessary to achieve their riches are the ones who are really in charge. Yes, those that were in Ukraine first have reaped the benefits, but that was primarily an inside job.

Ukrainians no doubt are viewing this publication with extreme skepticism. Are the ghost writers happy with their final product, maybe they weren't paid enough to disparage the work of its clearly plagiarized passages or at least to follow normal civilized norms of citing sources? Though most likely they see nothing wrong with the practice of plagiarism!

This is not the first time that highly placed public officials have tried passing the words of others off as their own. Not one of them has even been held accountable for their actions. Ukraine truly has potential, but until, such simple things such as intellectual property are not respected, how can one expect the nation to flourish and prosper.

Vasyl Pawlowsky
Independent Consultant

1 comment:

  1. Vasyl, I share your scepticism. But did you read the book? If some one (any one!) came up with a book talking about potential benefits of working with (future) Ukraine I'd be happy for Ukraine. Here is more in the article Ukraine desperately need positive messages coming out. From any source, as this is matter of survival for a sick body.