Meet Igor Fedyukin, Vladimir Putin's PhD hatchetman

Historians in the News
tags: Time Magazine, Vladimir Putin, Dmitri Medvedev, Igor Fedyukin, University of North Carolina

It’s an open secret in Russia today that many politicians and businessmen pad their resumes with fake diplomas, either plagiarizing their dissertations or paying someone to do it for roughly the cost of a midsize sedan. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, no real effort has been made to stop this practice, in part because so many of the country’s elite — all the way up to President Vladimir Putin — might have their graduate work scrutinized. But on Feb. 6, Putin’s political underling Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev broke the taboo. At a meeting with government officials and academics, he announced a campaign to ferret out fake degrees at every level of society. The number of “phony” diplomas had “burst through all possible limits,” Medvedev said. “This will be a sort of purge.” So how far is he willing to go?...

The man in charge of Medvedev’s purge is Igor Fedyukin, a rookie official with a Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and just eight months’ experience as the Deputy Minister of Education and Science. Fedyukin was part of a group of academics who in January exposed the extent of Russia’s plagiarism crisis by reviewing 25 dissertations chosen at random from the prestigious history department of Moscow Pedagogical State University. All but one were at least 50% plagiarized, with some as much as 90% copied from other sources. “That created the impression in the academic sphere that this phenomenon is pretty massive,” Fedyukin told me a few weeks later at his ministry, just up the block from the Kremlin.

When the subject turned to Putin and other high-ranking officials, Fedyukin became jittery. (The government spokesman who attended our interview, at the sound of Putin’s name, glanced up from his smart phone with a look of horror.) Repeatedly asked if Putin’s dissertation might be reviewed amid the purge, Fedyukin, his right leg tapping beneath the table, said, “It’s possible to review any dissertation when there are grounds to do so.” Later he added, “Status has nothing to do with it.”...

Read entire article at Time Magazine

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