Tallinn University downgrades police chief master's thesis

PPA director-general, Elmar Vaher.
PPA director-general, Elmar Vaher. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Tallinn University (TLÜ) has lowered Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) chief Elmar Vaher's 2016 master's thesis grade following a reassessment, Baltic News Service reports.

Vaher was cleared of charges of plagiarism by TLÜ's academic committee in July, though violations of principles of copyright, citation and research ethics in the thesis were noted.

Tallinn University's (TLÜ) masters program thesis committee met Monday to reassess the 2016 thesis, and although it said it would be making a decision same day, it did not guarantee the result would be made public.

However, following the review, the thesis committee lowered Vaher's grade from an 'A' to a 'D', according to BNS.

Errors in citations, their content and importance for the achievement of the goals of the paper were the grounds for the reduction, BNS reports, following a review which included expert analyses from within and outside the university, university spokespersons said at the time of the original recommendation in summer.

Vaher himself applied to have the thesis, entitled "Legal Regulation of Danger Prevention in the Case of a Threat to the Constitutional Order," reviewed to check with compliance with the regulations, following accusations of plagiarism.

Vaher says his thesis was not plagiarized and added that he has not left any of the numerous sources deliberately uncited. At the time the charges were made in June, he said he would step down from his post if found guilty of plagiarism.

Elmar Vaher response

Vaher said Monday that he respects the recent decision to lower the grade.

"In 2016, Tallinn University gave my thesis an A, changing the grade to a D today. I trust Tallinn University and will not be challenging the decision made by the committee today. With the committee's decision today, the master's thesis issue has been finally resolved for me," Vaher said, according to BNS.

The original accusations of plagiarism against Vaher appeared in investigative weekly Eesti Ekspress in June.

Interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE) said at the time that the accusations were no grounds for "crucifixion". However in late August, Helme attempted to have Vaher removed from his post following leaked internal PPA communications which said redundancies were imminent on the force, an action which caused a split in the government.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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