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3 Sep, 2009 14:52

Timoshenko the lyrical “graverobber”

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko has cribbed a fragment from the speech of Robert Kennedy that he delivered on the death of Martin Luther King 40 years ago.

A lack of good speechwriters can sometimes lead to plagiarism and embarrassment, which seems to have been the case with Yulia Timoshenko at the ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the start of WWII in Poland.

Robert F. Kennedy – the younger brother of President John F. Kennedy who acted as one of his advisers during his presidency; the U.S. Attorney General from 1961 to 1964 – during his speech announcing the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968 misquoted an ancient Greek poet. The fragment of his speech is also the epitaph his family had inscribed on his gravestone in Arlington National Cemetery. He said:

“My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote: ‘Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God’.”

Instead of checking the original, Yulia Timoshenko’s speech repeated the passage verbatim. Now her opponents are accusing her of, at worst, lying and, at best, illiteracy.

“The fact that Yulia Timoshenko word-for-word repeated a fragment from Robert Kennedy’s speech is a big failure of her American political consultants,” said Anna German, deputy from Party of the Regions.

“If Timoshenko had ever read Aeschylus she would have quoted his poetic lines, but not the free interpretation which Kennedy allowed himself having said that it was his favorite poet,” the deputy added.