Plagiarism is the representation of another person’s language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions as one’s own original work. Indeed, it is a shameful and unprofessional intellectual practice; just like stealing someone else’s property. In my opinion, however, fabrication — inventing false information in order to deceive – is even worse.

I have no tolerance for either.

In my upbringing I learned an enduring lesson of unintentional plagiarism as an eight-year-old second-grader in Kiev, former Soviet Union (today Ukraine), in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The school curriculum was compulsory for all, carefully censored by government’s officials and standardized throughout the country. Discipline was strict and teaching methods demanding, requiring intense drilling and repetitions to learn natural sciences and math subjects, and frequent memorization of the texts in social sciences, history and literature.

My elementary school teacher, Lyudmila Sergeevna Kozlova, was a strict disciplinarian; she demanded absolute obedience, respect and compliance. One time, our homework assignment was to compose a short verse that described our patriotic feelings, commitment and love for the country — the Soviet Union. I was a reasonable chess player for my age, but creative writing was not my “cup of tea.”

So, I chose an easy way out—at home I copied one of Alexander Pushkin’s verses from his famous novel “Eugene Onegin.” This Pushkin’s novel in verse is considered a classic of Russian literature. In fact, he is considered to be the greatest Russian poet, and founder of modern Russian literature. Even today, he is synonymous with William Shakespeare.

So, on the following day, I selected a short verse associated with a romantic illustration in the book, a scene where Eugene Onegin confessed his love to Tatyana, another key character of the novel. The next day I submitted “my (i.e., Pushkin) verse” to my teacher. I speculated that in the absence of a better literary option, Onegin’s confession of his love to Tatyana could suffice my love for the mother-Russia:

I loved you. And, it might well be, this notion
Is not extinguished in my soul just yet;
But may it cease to bring on your commotion;
I do not wish to make you feel upset.

I loved you mutely, hopelessly, and dearly,
With bashful, jealous suffering one can’t know;
I loved you tenderly and so sincerely,

May God grant that another love you so.

~ Translation by David Mark Bennett

At the end of the class, Lyudmila Sergeevna collected classmates’ verses for correction and verification of the students’ homework. The day after she came to the class with visible enthusiasm and excitement. “We have a genius in our class,” she announced proudly to all classmates. “It is Sasha (Alexander) Dolitsky, our young and talented poet!”

She read “my (i.e., Pushkin’s) short poem” to the whole class, then with a friendly smile asked me to stand up and accompanied by my classmates’ cheerful ovation she re-seated me from the last row to the front of the classroom. My classmates stared at me in amazement, with a sense of admiration and curiosity. I, however, was trembling, terrified inside and wanted to run far away in space or hide under the thick blanket.

Later that day, Lyudmila Sergeevna shared “my verses” with a teacher of Russian literature and language Lilya Gregorievna Dobrova. This teacher immediately recognized the original author. “Yes, this is Alexander alright,” she declared. “But not Dolitsky, it is Alexander Pushkin!”

Lyudmila Sergeevna was embarrassed that she failed to recognize a legendary Russian poet. She came back to the classroom steaming with anger, ordered me to stand up, grabbed my left ear very hard and pulled me to the back row of the classroom. Then she loudly announced to all classmates, “Sasha (Alexander) Dolitsky is a thief; he stole verses of our famous poet Alexander Pushkin as his own, shame!”

Presently, far-left media and pro-Palestinian “Hamas lovers” notoriously and intentionally fabricate information, misinterpreting history of Israel and the Middle East…

School teachers and my parents were notified of the incident. There was no place to run or hide from this unintentional plagiarism. My situation in the school was doomed; I was picked on and laughed at by fellow students and teachers.

My mother, also an elementary school teacher in a different school district, was not pleased with my wrongdoing, but she realized that some damage control must be done in order to rectify the situation. Several weeks after the incident, my mother set aside a little bottle with red ink in it and commanded me to give the bottle to Lyudmila Sergeevna, as a gesture of goodwill and forgiveness. Evidently red ink was rare in Kiev, but was used by teachers for correcting students’ work.

This winter day was exceptionally cold as I walked to school holding a little bottle of red ink under my clothes so it would not freeze before my meeting Lyudmila Sergeevna. While in school, I sheepishly approached Lyudmila Sergeevna, pulled the bottle from my shirt and whispered, “This is from my mother, I am sorry.” Lyudmila Sergeevna decisively rejected my offer with a stoic and uncompromising demeanor, resembling Joseph Stalin in a “skirt.” “Tell your mother not to send me gifts anymore; go to your place,” she ordered.

Compromise and forgiveness could not be reached, and in the following academic year, my mother transferred me to another school.

Plagiarism is not illegal in the United States in most situations. Instead, it is considered a violation of honor or professional ethics and can result in disciplinary action.

Fabrication, however, is making up information and manipulating research or changing results so that the conclusion is not accurately reported. Obviously, fabrication of data and research are extremely serious forms of misconduct because it can result in an inaccurate information or scientific record that does not reflect a factual truth.

Presently, far-left media and pro-Palestinian “Hamas lovers” notoriously and intentionally fabricate information, misinterpreting history of Israel and the Middle East, and manipulating facts in relation to today’s Israel/Gaza/Hamas war. These progressive “Hamas lovers” continuously misconstruing the history of Judeo/Israel and, subsequently, falsely accuse Israel in genocide, apartheid and the occupation of Gaza.

Dixie Belcher’s article published in the Juneau Empire on February 26 and Kirsa Hughes-Skandijs letter published in the Juneau Empire on March 19 are remarkably erroneous, with no fact checked by the editor of the Juneau Empire. These two pieces are clear and indisputable examples of the fabrication and manipulation of information on the Israel/Gaza/Hamas war. Were these fabrications published in the Juneau Empire an editor’s oversight or were they done by intentional design?

As Golda Meir, an Israeli fourth prime minister from 1969 to 1974, observed: “One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present.”

The views expressed here are those of the author.

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OPINION: A lesson on plagiarism and fabrication

Alexander Dolitsky
The writer was raised in the former Soviet Union before settling in the U.S. in 1978. He moved to Juneau in 1986 where he has taught Russian studies at the University of Alaska, Southeast. He is now director of the Alaska-Siberia Research Center and has published extensively in the fields of anthropology, history, archaeology, and ethnography.


  • John J Otness says:

    I am not a progressive Hamas Lover …. I am a staunch hater of those who murder innocent women and children.

    • John J Otness says:

      A.D. you are worse than Pravda in your censorship my words….lol…You took the first third of my write and erased the meat….Its OK the
      World is waking to the reemergence of the evil ones.

  • Friend of Humanity says:

    Good article! I doubt that these so-called leftist “writers” and “journalists” even care how it looks, or if it is truthful or care to properly quote someone else. I had an English instructor that was very strict, but not as strict as your Lyudmila Sergeevna Kozlova. After reading this article, I immediately thought of her. I am glad that she was who she was as an instructor because what she taught has always stuck with me. She demanded honesty, giving credit where credit is due, and excellence from each student. I hope that after this evil is defeated, we get instructors back in the rooms with these types of expectations. Our children have a long road ahead of them to unlearn all of the lies that have been taught to them. It will be nice when what really happened is written and spoken.

  • John J Otness says:

    AGAIN A.D CENSORS THE FACTUAL I WROTE…. HYPOCRITE… Now know how the White Christian Felt in the Communist Soviet. Union.

  • TrueFriendofHumanity says:

    This was a great read. I only hope Joel will take these words to heart and stop fabricating the lies he is always spouting in his articles. This story does a good job highlighting why Joel’s lying, for the sake of clicks and money, is so dishonorable and damaging to people who deserve to hear the truth instead.

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      Get your own name. All the names in the world you could choose and you cannot even use your noggin to come up with one. You are one sad puppy.

      • TruefriendofHumanity says:

        You don’t use your name. You hide behind a pseudonym like a coward. You are most definitely not a friend of humanity. More like the opposite. Maybe thats what you wish you could be if you could ever stop being so hateful?

        I use my name proudly, but Joel does not believe in free speech. He bans names he disagrees with and people that call him out when he lies and spreads hate speech. So I have to use proxy sites and pseudonyms just to have my voice heard. So much for his ‘unbiased’ journalism.

      • Friend of Humanity says:

        Lol You do know that you-being on the evil side-are losing this battle of good against evil. The more that good wins, the more that you spew hatred and accuse everyone else of what you are really doing and how much you hate humanity. I just want you to know that God Almighty wants everyone to learn the truths about him and his son. He wants for you to turn away from the evil, repent for your sins, and accept him and his son in your heart. Many people here want you to be saved, so accept the invitation that God Almighty extends to everyone and open your heart and let him in.

    • Alexander Dolitsky says:

      I published 10 books, nearly 60 professional articles and probably 120-150 newspaper articles worldwide. I always use copy editors. Joel Davidson is one of the best editors I worked with. It is not an easy profession to be an editor and journalist.

      • Diana says:

        Thank you for your great article so very well said and a lesson learned. I wish more professors would put a life lesson to the reader the way you wrote it. And, this person, Joel has a lot of courage and character to take on a business and an online news commentary as a source of good information. Joel is good with his business. Fairness and looks for a higher level of integrity.

  • Sir Comrade says:

    In the Viet Nam war era, we had three main media networks. As an open minded youngster I started noticing and questioning why they all read the same script with congruent opinions.
    It was a time when Americans denigrated the USSR for having only one government controlled media. Today, with a couple more networks and some minor exceptions, it’s basically the same here. Lies of omission are standard fare, Thankfully, with first amendment rights and internet we have more options to gain information that does not parrot the party line. .Now those who don’t obey the party line are besmirched ,slandered, and sometimes jailed for exposing truth as they don’t have the immunity provided to the puppet team.
    If you have hatred in your heart, the truth will set you free and give peace in these crazy days. Don’t expect to find it in our govt. propaganda network.

  • Trouser Bark says:

    What kind of teacher presents a subject and when later faced with inconvenient facts that disprove his presentation chooses to respond with sarcasm, derision and ad hominem?

    Your tripe is the antithesis of education and is instead flag waving for a grifting victim culture. Many also find it disingenuous that you attempt to present yourself as American yet you prattle incessantly about either Russia, Jews or Israel, topics that are not educational at all. These aren’t subjects you present as education they are instead letters intended to garner support for your country of choice. You’ve suggested previously that you’d like to be thought of as a red-blooded American but what we see is an ex-pat Russian evicted from his home country that settled in the US but also has had an Israeli visa. Do you travel under an Israeli passport?

    When called out on your flag waving you make an attempt to belittle your critic for their informed view. Even your responses are misdirected as none of the readers of this site give a sh(ekel) about Kirsa or Dixie whomever nor about whatever drivel the Juneau newspaper might print about your fixation of choice. As a bit of education you may find helpful, when someone says something you don’t care for; respond directly to them and not to others hundreds of miles away.

    Your flag waving nonsense is tiresome and your one-trick pony hasbara* screed is not educating anyone. You crow your preference for a victim culture; nothing more. Those of us that prefer to make informed choices recognize your misdirected cheerleading banter for what it is: victim culture grifter nonsense.


    • Alexander Dolitsky says:

      To Trouser Bark: “I found the key to happiness—stay away from idiots!” Morgan Freeman

      • Trouser Bark says:

        I ask ‘what kind of teacher when faced with inconvenient facts chooses to respond with sarcasm, derision and ad hominem’?

        You respond by calling those w/ a differing opinion an idiot. I also expected you to dodge the passport question. I infer from your choice that yes, you do travel as and identify as a citizen of a foreign nation despite your preference to be thought of as one of us. Are you aware that you come across as an imposter to those of us that prefer to make informed choices?

        Someone should verify your teaching credentials as it seems highly likely that they may be legit in the same manner as had been your plagiarized poem.

  • Trouser Bark says:

    To those of you that follow Dolitsky’s Israel ramblings note that any reference to Israel as a historical home of modern Jews is 100% argument ad populum nonsense that is clearly suspect phenotypically (look at Dolitsky and ask yourself if he appears to be middle eastern) and has also been objectively proven to be completely false genetically. If you are unaware of this look up the 23 & me hubbub surrounding Netanyahu’s son.

    Modern Jews have no historical tie to the stolen land they now lay claim to and you are being rallied into a frenzy in support of a squatter.