Police chief cleared of plagiarism charges

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

Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) chief Elmar Vaher has been cleared of plagiarism relating to his 2016 master's thesis.

The allegations appeared in investigative weekly Eesti Ekspress in mid-June, and claimed Vaher had intentionally used uncited sources, and copy pasted sentences or sections to a significant extent, in his master's thesis on law enforcement, which he completed at Tallinn University (TLÜ).

At the time, Vaher told ERR he would step down from his role as PPA director-in-chief if the allegations proved true.

However, the TLÜ academic commission decided on Friday that Vaher had not plagiarized, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.

"The academic commission opted to send Elmar Vaher's master's thesis to a review committee for reassessment," a TLÜ spokesperson stated. This reassessment has still to take place.

"As a result of reference errors in the work, the committee recommends a marking down of the thesis' grade, though it still merits a positive mark," the spokesperson continued, effectively exonerating Vaher of wrong-doing, pending the review.

"The commission based its decision on the scale of the reference errors, their content and their relevance in achieving the thesis' goals, and included both in-house and non-university expert analyses," the spokesperson added.

At the time the allegations were made by Eesti Ekspress, interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE) said that Vaher was being "crucified" unnecessarily.

Other prominent figures recently found guilty of academic plagiarism include former MP Rainer Vakra (SDE), who was stripped of his bachelor's degree by TLÜ in April, and motorcyclist and SDE candidate at the March general election Anastassia Kovalenko.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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