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The Courts Science

Chemist Jailed In Russia For Giving Expert Opinion In Court 232

scibri writes "Think the imprisonment of Pussy Riot is a miscarriage of justice? Check out the story of their cellmate: Chemist Olga Nikolaevna Zelenina heads a laboratory at the Penza Agricultural Institute. She is an expert in the biology of hemp and poppy, and is a sought-after expert in legal cases involving narcotics produced from these plants. Last year, she was asked by defense lawyers to give her opinion in a case involving imported poppy seeds. The prosecutors didn't like her evidence though, and now she's in prison accused of complicity in organized drug trafficking."
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Chemist Jailed In Russia For Giving Expert Opinion In Court

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  • by RobertLTux ( 260313 ) <{gro.nitramecnerual} {ta} {trebor}> on Friday September 21, 2012 @06:11PM (#41416133)

    She did LAB TESTS on i would assume a bunch of semi random samples of a shipment of Poppy Seeds and concluded that THIS SHIPMENT was so low in Drugs that this was not a DRUG shipment but a FOOD shipment. So the response of The Government is to JAIL HER for being "in on it". I would assume she had things like lab reports and such which were submitted as evidence and that Somebody Else has not done the same work and found different results (her "random" samples just "happened" to be Clean).

    Comrades Put down the Vodka for a moment and THINK.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 21, 2012 @06:32PM (#41416307)

    Where you'll be arrested for resisting arrest.

  • Re:Had it coming. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 21, 2012 @06:32PM (#41416309)

    It happens enough in the US that prosecutors are willing to do unethical and sometimes illegal things to get their conviction.

  • by Nethemas the Great ( 909900 ) on Friday September 21, 2012 @06:37PM (#41416349)
    GP's probably American cut him some slack. At least he got the hemisphere right...
  • by Kaz Kylheku ( 1484 ) on Friday September 21, 2012 @06:37PM (#41416357) Homepage

    From the article it is evident that she made precise measurements with lab equipment and presented them in court.
    Any of her colleagues could have repeated those measurements.

  • Re:Russia (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Friday September 21, 2012 @06:40PM (#41416385) Journal

    Why can't these people govern themselves without state thugs snatching people in the night?

    I ask the same thing about America. When we imprison sick people and their care givers, what right do we have to lecture Russia?

  • by ACS Solver ( 1068112 ) on Friday September 21, 2012 @07:15PM (#41416673)

    It is related to the case. I'm reading Russian sources, but the English TFA says as much.

    Basically, in 2010, the Russian FSKN (a law enforcement organization specifically fighting drugs) initiated criminal proceedings on allegation of drug contraband in poppy seeds. FSKN experts concluded that the shipment does constitute a shipment of drugs. Zelenina, as an expert witness, said that the particular shipment did not have intentionally added narcotic compounds, and that small amounts of those substances were present because it is in fact impossible to eliminate them entirely from poppy seeds. And now she's jailed on charges of being party to a contraband shipment of drugs. Interestingly, I read that a new legal standard adopted in Russia in 2005 specifies that poppy seeds must be completely free of these narcotic traces, which is a technological impossibility and thus poppy is now only imported and not grown.

    Fun thing is that there's another section in Russian law that allows people to be charged for making deliberately false expert witness statements - but she was not charged with that. The punishment for false statements is considerably lower than for drug contraband.

    This is actually old news (she's been in jail for a month) but is cropping up again because her appeal is being heard.

  • Re:Same in the US (Score:5, Informative)

    by tqk ( 413719 ) <> on Friday September 21, 2012 @07:25PM (#41416783)

    IIRC, the bourgoise were the 1% of their age.

    You don't. From "dict bourgeois": A size of type between long primer and brevier. Also: A man of middle rank in society; one of the shopkeeping class.

  • Re:Same in the US (Score:5, Informative)

    by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Friday September 21, 2012 @07:42PM (#41416915)

    Actually, no..

    While that *is* what the word means, and is applied correctly, remember that pre-revolution france was a fuedal society. The number of non-aristocrats that owned their own lands and homes was minimal.

    It's the same thing as with the 1% of today. A tiny fraction of the population owned the vast majority of land, wealth, resources, and power.

    The revolution started with the aristocrats, the "clearly" 1%-ers. This was not sufficient, as the bourgioes readily replaced them in tyrrany.

    The problem resolved when the aristocrats, *and* the supporting class (privilaged private land owners) were eliminated. After that, the peasant class could be represented in government.

    Eg, what I am getting at here, is that caiming "no, they were the middle class, not the 1%!" Is a nonsequitor, when the aristocrats represented .01%, and the bourgeois represented .99%, while the serf class represented 99%. The false comparison to today's "middle class" being a significantly larger portion of the population does not negate the assertion that the historic bourgeois were the 1%ers.

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Friday September 21, 2012 @07:48PM (#41416943) Homepage Journal

    We, here in the U.S. of A., imprison more people than any other nation.

    That's because we don't murder so many as some others, like China, where they legally murder ten times as many people as we do, per capita.

    My advice to anyone itching to don the Good-Guy Badge and storm the palace of bacchanalian litigation, is to look no further if you are a US citizen.

    Before we get around to that, let's storm them for doing murder in our name in pursuit of profit.

  • by wpi97 ( 901954 ) on Friday September 21, 2012 @08:37PM (#41417429)
    You and many other posters here are amazingly naive. With all its shortcomings, the US justice system is perfect compared to the Russian one. The members of the "Pussy Riot" group have just been sentenced to 3 years in prison for chanting an anti-Putin slogan in the main cathedral in Moscow. Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been convicted twice for completely ridiculous charges, and has been in prison for 9 years. Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer for a British firm operating in Moscow, uncovered massive tax fraud by Russian officials. He was the arrested for... wait for it... tax fraud, held without trial for almost a year, and conveniently died just days before the 1-year limit for which he could be held without trial was due to expire. It is highly unlikely that he has died from natural causes. These are just the recent high-profile cases that are known internationally. Beyond those there is incredible corruption at all levels, and complete disregard of the rule of law by the police and other officials.
  • by wpi97 ( 901954 ) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:50PM (#41417943)
    Who did? Pussy Riot? The most they could have been charged with by anyone with a brain is disturbing the peace, which according to the Russian law is punishable by a 15-day detention. Instead they were charged with a religion-based hate crime, and given a very real 2-year prison sentence (my mistake, they got 2 years, the prosecutors were asking for 3). If you read the reports from their trial or from the trial of Khodorkovsky, you will be amazed at how ridiculous the chargers and the arguments of the prosecution are. Kafka could not have made it up. And Magnitsky's case in an a class by itself. I person was held without trial and killed in prison. The US congress is considering sanctions against Russian officials because of this case. There are countless examples of abuse of power by police and other officials happening in Russia every day. There have been cases when people have been run over by a government official or an official's family member, and it was the victims who were charged and prosecuted. If you care enough, read something besides /.
  • Re:That's because (Score:5, Informative)

    by stjobe ( 78285 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @03:59AM (#41419453) Homepage

    I doubt it's a coincidence the French haven't won a war since the French Revolution (if you consider Napolean a continuation of the Revolution...)

    These battles might be of interest to you arrogant Americans:

    1758 Battle of Carillon (a.k.a. Battle of Ticonderoga)
    General Montcalm and his vastly outnumbered French forces are victorious over the British.

    1781 Battle of Yorktown
    French forces, allied with the Americans, are victorious over Cornwallis and his English army.

    1781 Battle of the Chesapeake - September 5th
    France, coming the aid of America's George Washington, defeats the British in a strategic victory.

    Without the French military you mock so, you wouldn't even have a country.

  • by Lotana ( 842533 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @05:23AM (#41419683)

    What are you talking about? At the moment NASA is sending their astronauts to ISS on Russian-built Souz spacecraft, while lacking a man-rated craft of their own! The Soviet Union achieved so many firsts that USA panicked: That resulted in the Apollo program that finally secured their lead. Even after Apollo, Russia still achieved a first: First space station.

    For all the flaws of Russia, their space program is something remarkable. Even when it went through all the shit and chaos of Perestroika and corruption afterwards, they just kept going. We shall see how long NASA will last with all the cuts coming.

  • by Pav ( 4298 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @05:37AM (#41419713)

    Naive? You act like you live in a country that hasn't jailed a potential presidential nominee [] under Bush's watch on extremely dubious grounds. Watch that video to get a feel for how many other prosecutions have been politically persued and you'll start understanding how corrupted your judiciary was under Bush and continues to be under Obama. Karl Rove, the guy primarily responsible for this politicisation is working for the president of Sweden which is JUST ONE of the many reasons so many are dubious [] about the prosecution of Assange.

    People laughed at Bush. In my country (Australia) people laughed at Joh Bjelke-Petersen [] until he went from state to federal politics. Luckily he was outmaneuvered in a snap election, then prosecuted... and it was exposed how utterly corrupted the judiciary and virtually every department of government had been. His only mistake had been to stay in state politics long enough for the rest of the country to know how corrupt he was. People had laughted, but we in Australia could have conceivably become a dictatorship. That sounds extreme, but the state police were regularly used to monitor, beat and arrest political opposition, political boundaries were redrawn to bais elections etc... This was in AUSTRALIA... and yet people in other states laughed at the bumbling buffoon and felt smug and superior until their democracy was threatened. That was 30 years ago and has been more or less forgotten.

    Your judiciary is quite corrupt, make no mistake.

  • by Genda ( 560240 ) <mariet@got . n et> on Saturday September 22, 2012 @05:37AM (#41419717) Journal

    The problem is that there were a number of case of extraordinary rendition where innocent people were kidnapped by the U.S. Government, taken to the middle east where they were tortured then eventually dumped someplace else or in some cases died of the torture process. One of the more popular cases was that of Maher Arar [], a Canadian telecommunications engineer with dual citizenship in Canada and Syria whose only mistake was landing in the U.S. for a flight layover on his way back home. What followed would have made a great situation comedy if torture hadn't been involved. The U.S. is stonewalling these cases to this day. There are so many horror stories the case of Aafia Siddiqui [] is so terrible, it made me nauseous reading it. I think the person the GP may be speaking of was the subject of a 60 Minutes segment. He was a University Professor (and was himself an immigrant from the Middle East) at a major school in New England and had posted flyer to get students together to discuss what the Government was doing and whether it served our culture to abandon the Geneva Convention. The result is that he himself was kidnapped and in an act of extraordinary rendition spent the next 18 months as a guest of the U.S. Government seeing a number of fascinating torture facilities in the middle east. His abuse was severe and the damage to his body and his mind permanent. Eventually he was dumped naked and found his way to Canada where he and his family now live. The US claims no knowledge of what happened to him.

    There's a great book about rendition by a former CIA agent, and what he says basically is that the people who pushed this insanity through knew nothing about interrogation or intelligence, and that their choice to ignore the Geneva Convention damaged us far more than any attack from the outside ever could.

  • Re:That's because (Score:3, Informative)

    by AliasMarlowe ( 1042386 ) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @07:10AM (#41419915) Journal

    I doubt it's a coincidence the French haven't won a war since the French Revolution (if you consider Napolean a continuation of the Revolution...)

    These battles might be of interest to you arrogant Americans:

    1758 Battle of Carillon (a.k.a. Battle of Ticonderoga) General Montcalm and his vastly outnumbered French forces are victorious over the British.

    1781 Battle of Yorktown French forces, allied with the Americans, are victorious over Cornwallis and his English army.

    1781 Battle of the Chesapeake - September 5th France, coming the aid of America's George Washington, defeats the British in a strategic victory.

    You were going for a "funny" upmod, weren't you!

    All those battles were before the French Revolution [], which was 1789-1799. They are hardly contradictions of his somewhat tongue-in-cheek assertion. Moreover, they were battles, while his assertion was for wars. FWIW, I'm not an American, either.

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. -- John Kenneth Galbraith