University committee: Politician engaged in plagiarism, should lose diploma ({{commentsTotal}})

Rainer Vakra speaking to the media after Friday's decision that he had engaged in plagiarism on his bachelor's thesis.
Rainer Vakra speaking to the media after Friday's decision that he had engaged in plagiarism on his bachelor's thesis. Source: Tauno Peit/ERR

Tallinn University has ruled that politician Rainer Vakra plagiarised materials in his bachelor's thesis, and recommends the university strip him of his diploma.

Mr Rainer, who was formerly an MP with the Social Democratic Party (SDE) but who did not get a seat at the 3 March general election, was accused of plagiarising reports by Säästva Eesti Instituut (SEI) in his 2002 bachelor's thesis at the university, as well as presenting research conducted by another student as his own, according to weekly Eesti Ekspress

Priit Reiska, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs at Tallinn University, told ERR after a meeting of the Tallinn University Academic Committee discussing the matter, that the academic committee had unanimously adopted two decisions: that Vakra's theisis work was largely plagiarism and that the university rector should revoke his diploma.

Mr Reiska added that the Commission's decision was a proposal that must be approved by the university.

''I think the university will make a decision in around a week, after which the procedure will be to meet with the other party for, comments, additional explanations, with the time for this usually being a week. Following this, only the university can make a decision," he continued.

Rainer Vakra ran in the Mustamäe and Nõmme district of Tallinn, missing out on re-election by a narrow margin which some blamed on the plagiarism controversy, since the story broke in mid-February, only a few weeks before the election.

Political future not clear

When reached for comment by ERR, Rainer Vakra stated that he had only found out about the story via the media, which he felt was not an appropriate way for Tallinn University to act.

He also said that he did not know whether he would remain in politics or in the SDE party, and that he awaited the commission's decision in writing.

Marju Lauristin, a former MEP, government minister and SDE member, said when the plagiarism accusations came to light, if they were to prove true, then Mr Vakra would have to leave politics.

ERR was unable to find out from SDE leader Jevgeni Ossinovski whether Mr Vakra would be out of the party as a result of the revelations, though he had previously said that the party expected an independent study at Tallinn University, after which it could make a decision.

The acadaemic commission which investigated the case included Mart Abel, Tõnu Laas, Tobias Ley, Daniele Monticelli, Kristjan Port, Ellu Saar and Merike Sisask.

Editor: Andrew Whyte



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