Mart Helme: Police chief plagiarism claims no grounds for "crucifixion"

PPA director Elmar Vaher.
PPA director Elmar Vaher. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE) has hit out at allegations of plagiarism leveled against police chief Elmar Vaher.

Speaking on ERR current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Tuesday evening, Helme said that the allegations, which appeared in investigative weekly Eesti Ekspress Tuesday and concerned Vaher's master's thesis, were serious and were insufficient grounds for a person to be "crucified".

For his part, Vaher told ERR that if he is found guilty of plagiarism, he would step down from his role as director-in-chief of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA).

Vaher however denied that the master's thesis, conducted at Tallinn University (TLÜ), contained plagiarized material, adding that none of the numerous sources in the work was left intentionally uncited.

"I wrote my master's thesis on preventing situations posing a threat to constitutional order in light of the Law Enforcement Act, which entered into force in 2011," Vaher said, BNS reports.

"In my work, I cited more than 80 sources and worked through considerably more materials. Quality control for me was my supervisor, TLÜ's associate professor of law Ilmar Selge, with whom I discussed both the direction of the thesis and the various sources. I have not left any of the sources deliberately uncited," he continued.

Vaher has also asked TLÜ to assess whether the thesis complies with all academic requirements.

Tallinn University is reportedly going to convene an academic committee on the matter, within the next three weeks, and cannot offer any further comment ahead of that.

Other prominent figures recently accused of academic plagiarism include former MP Rainer Vakra (SDE), who was stripped of his bachelor's degree by TLÜ in April, after being found to have plagiarized extensively in a thesis.

Mart Helme has previously spoken out on the issue of allegations in the media, including those made against former IT minister Marti Kuusik (EKRE). Kuusik stepped down from the role after less than two days in the post, following the claims, which he denied.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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