The Case of the Unwanted Organization
In 2021, a former leader of one of the well-known Russian social movements was detained in Russia. The basis was the accusation of participation in the activities of an undesirable foreign organization. The investigator had no confirmation of this accusation, so he ordered a political science examination to a group of employees of one of the state universities. The authors of this commission’s examination confirmed all the investigator’s guesses: the accused allegedly conducted activities on behalf of a foreign organization, published articles to achieve the goals of this organization, and so on. The willingness of Russian experts from budgetary organizations to agree with the investigation is not a secret. The peculiarity of this case was that the expert opinion was the main basis for the prosecution.
The detainee’s lawyer approached me with a proposal to review the expert opinion. In accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation, a lawyer, on his own initiative and without the approval of a judge, can only submit to the court a conclusion of a specialist. Therefore, I made an examination-review in the format of a specialist’s conclusion.
The lawyer asked me to answer one question: “Does the conclusion of the commission political science expertise meet the modern methods of political science?” I had to choose for review such aspects that would most convincingly expose the low competence and bias of the experts. I have chosen the three most important aspects:
1. Did the authors of the examination use the research method they claimed?
2. Does the expert opinion comply with the requirements for the use of political science research methods?
3. Are there any distortions of information in the expert opinion that influenced the conclusions of this examination?
State experts wrote that they use the system analysis method. But they didn’t even know what it was. System analysis has several features that make it possible to separate this method from others without error. For example, when using this method, the terms of systems theory are necessarily applied. For example, the words “system”, “elements of the system” and others. None of these terms were used by the authors of the examination. Not to mention the fact that they did not use quantitative research methods. Even more interesting is that systems analysis is an applied branch of systems theory. That is, system analysis combines many different methods. The authors of the examination call system analysis a method and by this they show that they know nothing about it. As well as about what the scientific method of research is.
All methods of modern political science research require requirements for the standard of proof. Any conclusions of a political scientist must be confirmed. An expert can draw conclusions based on special knowledge, but these conclusions should not contradict reliably confirmed facts. However, the authors of the examination clearly contradicted a reliably established fact. Namely, the foreign organization allegedly run by the defendant never existed. No one has ever created or registered this organization. How did this ghost come about? The answer turned out to be simple. The Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation included in the List of foreign and international non-governmental organizations whose activities are recognized as undesirable on the territory of the Russian Federation the translation into English of the name of the Russian organization. It looks stupid, but it’s a fact.
The authors of the examination claim that the non-existent foreign organization “is aimed at changing the foundations of the constitutional order of the Russian Federation.” But the constitutional order is several characteristics, and all of them are named in the first chapter of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. For example, the republican form of government. As well as the supremacy of the Constitution of the Russian Federation and federal laws throughout the country, the right of the subjects of the Federation to their own legislation and several others. In the examination there was not a single confirmation that the notorious foreign organization plans to liquidate the republic and establish a monarchy in Russia. There was also no confirmation of intentions to change any other basis of the constitutional order … Of course, this is a distortion of information. That is, such an interpretation of information that leads to incorrect conclusions.
Thus, the authors of the expert opinion:
1. They did not use the method of system analysis declared by them and did not even understand what system analysis is.
2. Did not comply with the requirements for the use of political science research methods.
3. They distorted information in order to formulate the conclusions necessary for the investigation.
A biased examination was needed by the investigation in order to accuse a person, despite the absence of corpus delicti. In fact, the experts falsified the conclusions of the expert opinion.
The purpose of the investigation was clearly political. It consisted in stopping the public activities of an opposition public figure.
This example confirms a simple truth – an expert must be competent and objective. If he is incompetent, he will be exposed by real experts. The same will happen if he is biased.