Turkmenistan’s Ombudswoman Plagiarizes Half of Her Inaugural Report

As discovered by Alternative Turkmenistan News (ATN), the original work was published back in 2015 by a student in Kazakhstan.

Nearly half of the first report published by Turkmenistan’s Ombudsman’s office is a copy-paste from a Master’s thesis written by a student in Kazakhstan.

The state media widely publicized the report, allegedly penned by Yazdursun Gurbannazarova (middle), which summarized the Ombudswoman’s work and the state of human rights in Turkmenistan in 2017. The document, available in Russian, also featured on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Without going into the details of the report, the document appears to be filled with plagiarism, with entire passages copied and pasted from another work.

In the second chapter alone, Gurbannazarova and her office copied verbatim 13 paragraphs telling about the history of the Ombudsman’s office and its work mechanisms from a master’s thesis titled “Activities of the Ombudsman for Human Rights in the Republic of Kazakhstan.” This academic paper appeared on www.allbest.ru website in July 2015 (link to download the MS Word file).

The authors of the Turkmen report failed to show any kind of creativity as they presented the opinions and arguments of Kazakh, Russian, and Western scholars, referenced in a due way in the original work, as their own. This is certainly an example of the work attitude among Turkmen officials, particularly in the new Ombudswoman’s office: they prefer to copy someone else’s work than to produce their own. The ultimate responsibility for the report, however, lies with Ombudswoman Gurbannazarova.

In the eighth chapter, “Conclusions and Proposals”, Gurbannazarova copied the “Conclusion” section of the graduate thesis from Kazakhstan, changing only a few words. Here is a portion of the text, which was copied in full (translated from Russian):

“The new institution for the protection of human rights, on which the citizens, civil society and the government had high hopes, unfolded its systematic work, defined the principles of its relations with people in need of protection, state bodies and public organizations. The Ombudsman’s office started its work as a typical national human rights organization, recognized legally as an independent body.”

Several other sections were also partially plagiarized. In Chapter III “Analysis of the activities carried out during the reporting period” the Turkmen Ombudswoman only left out a quote from Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbaev but copied the rest of the text. Most of the conclusions and further proposals were directly taken from the Master’s thesis.

The approach that Gurbannazarova and her staff took to prepare the report mirrors their office and the government’s overall attitude towards the protection of human rights. Authorities are indifferent to human rights issues in Turkmenistan – a country where journalists are beaten in the streets and critics of the regime are imprisoned on trumped-up charges. The Ombudswoman’s office, similarly to its first report, is a sham institution just aimed to appease the international community.

Turkmenistan’s Criminal Code punishes the violation of copyright and related intellectual property with a fine or correctional labor for up to two years, especially in the case of a conspiracy, which would involve a team like Gurbannazarova and her staff. Administratively, this kind of plagiarism can be punished with a fine or detention for up to 15 days.

But of course in Turkmenistan, nobody can touch the untouchables.

Photo credit: UNDP Turkmenistan