University of Tartu rules Kovalenko degrees plagiarised

Anastassia Kovalenko (SDE).
Anastassia Kovalenko (SDE). Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

The academic committee of the University of Tartu has ruled that both master's theses defended by Anastassia Kovalenko, motorcyclist and member of the Social Democratic Party (SDE), were plagiarised to a large extent, daily Postimees reports.

"The committee on plagiarism found that Anastassia Kovalenko's thesis constitutes infringement," University of Tartu spokesperson Kristina Kurm said.

"The committee's statement reads that the infringement was extensive, which means that there were errors amounting to whole paragraphs and even pages," she explained. "Thus, it was sufficient to declare the thesis academic misconduct."

She added that extensive issues with citation were discovered in both theses, and noted that Ms Kovalenko could lose both of her academic degrees as a result, but nothing certain could be said yet.

"That would be speculation," Ms Kurm said. "The decision will be made by the university's management, and it will take several more weeks. Other parties — the student council and Anastassia Kovalenko's own opinion on the committee's position — will be heard as well."

The spokesperson noted that the university lacks past practice involving cases where plagiarism concerns a graduate, not a student.

Ms Kovalenko wrote on Facebook that although she respects the position of the University of Tartu, she found the decision to disproportionate and the result of public pressure.

"I still do not consider my thesis plagiarism, but I have said that it may include technical shortcomings — paragraphs which do not include a proper citation," she wrote.

Ms Kovalenko holds two master's degrees. She was awarded the first degree for a thesis on money laundering that she defended at the School of Law of the University of Tartu in 2015; she defended her second master's thesis, on the topic of the rights of small shareholders, at the School of Economics and Business Administration of the University of Tartu in 2017.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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