Liars in power

 Liars in power

Luba Shara, UP, Washington , 18.04.2005, 18:38

Люба Шара, Вашингтон, УП , 14.04.2005, 15:03(UNSO)

First we thought it was an April Fool’s hoax. An anonymous letter to expose Justice Minister Roman Zvarych’s alleged lies arrived to the Ukrayinska Pravda office on April 1, right after he had taken part in the US-Ukraine Business Networking Forum.

This quite successful and useful conference took place at the Ukrainian Institute of America in New York, on March 30-31. Incidentally, New York City is hometown of Minister Zvarych. And on the 1st of April Minister Zvarych had a speech at his alma mater, Columbia University.

Look up any Who-is-Who directory, browse the Ukrainian Parliament or Cabinet of Ministers web-sites and you will see that Roman M. Zvarych was born on November 20, 1953 in New York, USA. Higher education. In 1981 he graduated from Columbia University (New York), Department of Philosophy. Ph.D. thesis “Ontological bases of Plato ethics” (1981). 1981-1983 – Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. 1983 to 1991 – Professor in New York University.

The gist of the anonymous letter was that its author(s) took advantage of the Minister’s visit to the campus and decided to arrange an interview with him and the Columbia alumni magazine.

However, the alumni magazine staff replied that they were unaware of any Columbia graduate named Roman Zvarych.

Oops! Could be yet another fake “proFFessor”?

Allegations in the anonymous April Fool’s Day letter were so serious and blunt, that the Ukrayinska Pravda decided to conduct an independent journalistic investigation.

Untruth # 1. Master or Doctor?

First thing that catches one’s attention in Mr. Zvarych’s biography is a major inconsistency between its Ukrainian and English versions.

The Ukrainian-language page of the Cabinet of Ministers claims that Mr. Zvarych holds a Master of Philosophy degree, whereas the English-language page suggests that he has a Ph.D.

This discrepancy is essential, since not too many people in America earn master’s degrees, and a Ph.D. degree – this is for top-guns only – is a five- or six-year-period of hard toiling at libraries.

We hoped that perhaps Mr. Justice Minister’s failure to notice those discrepancies was due to his busy work schedule. The hope has quickly faded away once we looked up an old copy of the `Ukrainian Weekly`. There, back in 1998, Mr. Zvarych was interviewed by Roman Woronowycz. And even than it was indicated that Mr. Zvarych had a Ph.D. in philosophy.

So what degree does Mr. Zvarych have: a doctorate or master’s?

Should we choose to trust the English-language version at the Cabinet of Ministers’ Internet-site, then it all makes perfect sense. Roman Zvarych studied at Columbia University in 1978 – 1981, earned a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) and began teaching at the same university as an Assistant Professor, which in American academe is the first and lowest title upon completion of a doctorate.

The problems with Mr. Zvarych’s biography cropped up when we looked at its Ukrainian-language versions. Firstly, the master’s programs in the US are typically designed for a two-year study. Graduate students may take an academic leave, may skip a semester or two, there may also be joint or combined master’s programs extended to three years.

According to the Ukrainian-language biographies of Mr. Justice Minister, he had earned his master’s degree after a lengthy five-year period (1976-1981), which seems quite unusual.

The fact that Mr. Zvarych began his study at Columbia University in 1976 was confirmed by the University itself. So let’s set it all straight.

If, for example and in line with the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers’ Ukrainian-language web page version Mr. Zvarych holds the master’s and not the doctoral degree, then how could he have taught as an Assistant Professor at the university without a Ph.D.?

We have polled several American professors for their opinions and they all asserted that such scenario could have been absolutely impossible. They said that in the United States only upon completion of a doctoral degree one could be eligible to become `Assistant Professor`, `Associate Professor`, or full `Professor`.

Therefore, it appears as if the Ukrainian-language web-page got it wrong and the Ukrainian Minister of Justice holds not a master’s, but rather a doctoral degree, having received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in the City of New York.

The problem is that Mr. Zvarych, in accordance with the information we have obtained and independently confirmed, does not hold a doctoral degree from Columbia University.

Untruth # 2. Plato Ethics vs. Zvarych Ethics

If one is to trust “Who is Who in Ukraine”, a directory compiled by the `КІС` Publishers in 2004, Roman Zvarych has authored almost 30 scientific works. We decided to browse at least one of them, namely his doctoral dissertation “Ontological bases of Plato ethics” (1981).

A definitive archival collection of doctoral dissertations and master`s theses successfully completed in the US can be searched at a special web-server. Click on `dissertation express`, then `connect to dissertation express as an individual`, then twice click on `continue`, until a window opens, where you can type in the author’s last name and find his or her dissertation or thesis.

Please type in the spelling of Mr. Zvarych’s last name as it had been written before he emigrated to Ukraine – Zwarycz. Also you can try other possible spellings: Zvarych, Zvarich, Zwarich, Zwaritch, or even Swaritch.

The results will be all the same. There is neither any dissertation on Plato, nor any other dissertation whatsoever authored by Mr. Zvarych. If you try the names of Subtelny, Szporluk, Motyl, or Himka, or any other scholar of Ukrainian background, you will find not only the title but also the order number, using which you can pay for and buy a copy of such dissertation.

To make absolutely sure that Mr. Zvarych has written no dissertation, we resorted to the CLIO database of Columbia University Libraries as well as New York University Libraries since Mr. Justice Minister, according to his biography, used to study there, launched his academic career and had been teaching for almost eight years.

”1983 to 1991 – Professor in New York University”, reads the Government Portal, an official web-portal of the Government of Ukraine.

Both university libraries have search engines and by typing in the author’s last name one can find everything written by that author. We did just that.

This was the result: the libraries of both universities contained not only no dissertation on Plato and his ethics by Zvarych, but no record of a single (!) academic writing by the future Minister of Justice.

In case all those articles Mr Zvarych has written for his political party RUKH and any other press publications during his life in Ukraine are considered his academic writings, then all Ukrainian journalists might be called doctors, since they also write articles .

Untruth # 3. Philosophy Department and a Columbia University degree

If the information which appeared in the article titled Not A Stranger published by the “Weekly Mirror” (a full version of this article in Ukrainian can be found here) , as well as in many other Ukrainian and Russian publications were to be trusted, then Mr. Roman Zvarych is a graduate of the Philosophy Department, Columbia University.

No verify or deny this information we send a letter and made a telephone call to Columbia University, specifically to the Department of Student Services.

Mr. Bill W. Santin, Senior Student Services Representative, told us over the phone that somebody named Roman Michael Zwarycz had indeed been studying at Columbia University.

However! He studied at the then School of International Studies, and not at the Philosophy Department contrary to what is indicated in all biographies of Mr. Zvarych.

That somebody, who we believe is the Minister of Justice of Ukraine today, in no way could have had graduated in 1981, for after studying at the School of International Studies from 1976 to May of 1978, he dropped out. Mr. Santin did not know the reason why.

Roman Zvarych studied at a master’s program, not a doctoral program. Upon the completion of his graduate studies he was expected to receive an M.I.A. degree, i.e. Master of International Affairs. Yet it had nothing to do with either philosophy or Ph.D.!

Still not quite grasping where did the whole story about the Philosophy Department come from and wishing to get a documented record of what information Mr. Bill Santin told us over the phone, we followed up with a written request to Columbia University.

A Columbia University degree as well as any degree from any other university in the United States can be verified through the National Student Clearinghouse.

After having completed many forms and paid a fee, we received the answer. It has confirmed what we already heard from the Student Services Representative: Roman Michael Zwarycz (earlier spelling of Zvarych), born in 1953, was awarded NO DEGREE from Columbia University in the City of New York.

Neither master’s degree, nor doctorate. Hence he could have worked as a professor at neither Columbia nor New York University, nor any other American university.


Untruth # 4. Law


Mr. Zvarych loves to be interviewed. Here is what he said in an interview published by the FAKTY newspaper (originally published in Russian):

What was your specialty when you studied?

– Philosophy, Law and International Politics. I received a Master of Philosophy degree. But I did not practice law in the US as a lawyer, that I did in Ukraine only.

By the way, I have not graduated from the university, because I transferred to the doctoral program. I have not completed it either, since I began teaching at Columbia University as a Teaching Assistant.

I had my own courses, I led seminars and so on. Then I was offered a position of professor at New York University. That is I did not have the title of Professor, only the rank. Those are different things. I had taught for seven years at New York University. I taught different subjects: Philosophy of Law, Legal Studies, Ethics, Intellectual History.

Mr. Minister told the truth about himself, yet not completely. On one hand he did not completely graduate from Columbia University. On the other, in his own words, he was awarded the master’s degree.

That is he did not complete his master’s degree, because he was transferred to the doctoral program. And yet he did not complete it either, since he began teaching at the university … without a single completed degree. Completely far out!

We were unable to find out what exactly did Mr. Zvarych do at NYU, since the automated employment verification system required a Social Security Number to be entered. Naturally, we did not know Mr. Zvarych’s number. Besides, the system goes back only within the last three years. And Mr. Zvarych has lived in Ukraine since the early 1990s.

We can only assume now that without a completed degree Mr. Zvarych could work at NYU as either library researcher, lab assistant or anything similar, but not as a professor, even if it was only a professorship position without a title.

`… I did not practice law in the US as a lawyer, that I did in Ukraine only,` tells the Minister of Justice to the FAKTY newspaper. Nothing surprising.

In America Mr. Zvarych had no grounds to practice law for a simple reason of lacking the appropriate professional education to be a lawyer.

Could it be that he has obtained the appropriate law education in Ukraine or elsewhere? There is no hint about it in any of his publicly available biographies. There is no logic in it either. Why would he need to work on completing his education in some “backwater” Ukrainian university, if he already has a degree from Columbia?

However, as it has already been cited above, Mr. Zvarych was awarded NO DEGREE from Columbia University. Neither in Philosophy, nor International Affairs, nor Law, nothing, zilch! Then what is the meaning of all that for Ukraine: that somebody with an incomplete higher education may become the Minister of Justice?

From the Source: Minister’s Lack of Memory


On April 12 we got a chance to set this complicated matter straight and pose questions directly to Mr. Zvarych. At a press conference in Kyiv, the Ukrayinksa Pravda asked the Minister of Justice of Ukraine about his education.

UP: Mr. Zvarych we would like you to confirm that you did study at Columbia University.
Zvarych: Yes, I did.
UP: And did you graduate from it in 1981?
Zvarych: I do not recall exactly when I graduated from it, but I did study there for sure…
UP: Did you study at the Philosophy Department?
Zvarych: At the Philosophy Department, as well as at the School of International Affairs… and I spent there quite a long time.
UP: Did you write your dissertation there too?
Zvarych: No, I did not write a dissertation. I did not reach that level, but I did conclude my master’s degree, a Master of Philosophy.
UP: So, your work on Plato, was it your master’s thesis?
Zvarych: On Plato? It was the work within the context of one of the so-called colloquia. Well, have to go, sorry…

Summary: The Emperor is Naked!

Minister Zvarych objects to lustration, promises to harshly punish corruption, launches the “clean hands” campaign, actively fights the Yellow PORA untruthfulness, and the Cabinet of Minister’s unconstitutional decisions, determines if the Berezovsky-type former oligarchs may or may not come to Ukraine.

To put it short, Minister Zvarych is a man of high morals, integrity, and refinement. He is a squeaky clean government official, and almost as ethical as Plato’s ethics. And yet a tiny untruth is lurking in a cupboard, which has been overlooked by all the government agencies, the independent press and the nonexistent opposition.

The journalistic investigation of Mr. Roman Zvarych’s biography has lasted for two weeks. If the Cabinet of Minister’s personnel department (in case it still exists) were to spend at least half of that time to check the biographic data of its Ministers, perhaps there would have been fewer fake professors walking the corridors of power in Ukraine.

It is especially painful to see such naked emperors now within the new government.