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Semantic Justice

It was reported earlier this week that the defamation case against Vladimir Putin, brought against him by Vladimir Ryzhkov, Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov after he accused them all of having stolen ‘billions of dollars’ ‘in the 90s’, was thrown out (the defendants plan to appeal), with Ryzhkov slamming the double standards of the legal system.  Following up, today’s Moscow Times editorial rages about the reasoning given for this decision:
It was taken as a given, of course, that [Judge Tatyana] Adamova would rule in favor of Putin regardless of the circumstances. But what was most bewildering was her explanation for the ruling: that Putin was speaking in general terms only and didn’t really mean the three specific individuals. Thus, there were no grounds for slander, Adamova argued.
When is an opposition leader not an opposition leader?  Or indeed, when is a flag not a flag?  Adamova’s ‘reasoning’ reminded me of Japan’s excuse, issued today, for not pursuing Sergei Lavrov’s request that it prosecute protesters who desecrated the Russian flag in anger over the Kuril Islands: ‘the extremists desecrated ‘not the Russian flag, but “a self-made object” resembling a flag.