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Размышлять подобным образом значит исключать из их числа таких исторических личностей как Бендамор и Контратий.

What case should I use here? Accusative or Genitive?

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    Different cases should be used depending of whether you are want to exclude persons, or to exclude persons from the list of persons. Исключать из чего? - из числа личностей: "Исключать из числа таких личностЕЙ". Исключать что? - личности: "Исключать такие личностИ". – Artemix Sep 3 '13 at 9:21
  • @Artemix "Исключать что? - личности: "Исключать такие личностИ"" - The thing is, the question "Исключать кого?" would also be possible and absolutely correct in this case. If so, then "Исключать такИХ личностЕЙ" would also be correct. – brilliant Sep 24 '13 at 0:31
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What case should I use here? Accusative or Genitive?

You should without doubt use accusative here, but I think you intended to ask whether личность is animate or not in this context (in other words, whether to use кого? or что? in accusative).

I believe this passage from Rosenthal (153.5):

Слово лицо в значении «человек» употребляется во множественном числе как существительное одушевленное, например: наградить отдельных лиц.

would apply to личность as well, so your example is correct.

Update:

From Yeskova's Краткий словарь трудностей русского языка:

enter image description here

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  • care to explain the downvote? – Quassnoi Sep 19 '13 at 21:01
  • Лицо and личность differ here. Наградить отдельных личностей is ungrammatical or sarcasmic, imitates uneducated speech. – Anixx Sep 19 '13 at 21:02
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    @Anixx: there are lots of examples in the corpus which tell otherwise: Я бы подобных личностей к аспирантуре не подпускала, Они подстерегают в основном самостоятельных личностей, решивших совершенствовать себя без помощи инструктора and other. – Quassnoi Sep 19 '13 at 21:33
  • first example seemingly sarcasmic (I think, the word "личностей" even can be put in quotes here), second example looks unnatural(or like a 19th century speech) to me. – Anixx Sep 19 '13 at 21:41
  • @Anixx: do я бы подобные личности к аспирантуре не подпускала or они подстерегают самостоятельные личности seem natural to you? – Quassnoi Sep 19 '13 at 21:44
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Indeed исключать is a transitive verb that requires accusitive.

личность in accusative plural is личности (see morpher.ru)

My variant:

Размышлять подобным образом - значит исключать из их числа такие исторические личности, как Бендамор и Контратий.

Using genitive with личность instead of accusative (only in plural) sounds very informal and not like an obvious grammatical error. It is also most often used jokingly. I was able to google another usage of genitive with this word where accusative is supposed to be used: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/User_talk:Dart_evader

Сорри, Дарт. Вы, конечно, правы - не надо увековечивать тут подобных личностей :-)

So by using genitive here we kind of express sarcasm. It's no longer someone famous, but someone who pretends to be famous. Hope this helps.

Update (some more examples):

http://www.uralskweek.kz/2013/09/02/shkolnik-iz-uralska-sozdal-socialnuyu-set/

собираемся приглашать знаменитых и интересных личностей

No sarcasm here, why not accusative? It's informal speach and the word is used in a different meaning (person, not personality).

I can't find a real example of accusative plural on the Internet. Need a different kind of search engine. But here is a more or less realistic example of my own:

В юности он старательно изучал личности Берии и Сталина, стараясь в чём-то даже походить на них.    
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  • Are you sure that Nevermind intentionally used genitive to express sarcasm? Looks like an error or typo for me. – default locale Sep 3 '13 at 10:24
  • Yes, I'm pretty sure. His usage was intuitive though. :) My conclusions about sarcasm are based on my own experience as a native speaker and some linguistic background. I found this meaning in the explanatory dictionary: efremova.info/word/lichnosti.html So we may use it in plural to hint at someone, to offend, hurt one's pride. And hence sarcasm. – Vitaly Sazanovich Sep 3 '13 at 11:12
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    I think Efremova's second case of личности is used in expression переходить на личности - "прямая критика личности или оскорбление оппонента" and not because genitive expresses sarcasm. – Artemix Sep 3 '13 at 13:11
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It depends on what the author wanted to say. As of your variant, it is ungrammatical, but there are two possible corrections with different meaning:

Размышлять подобным образом значит исключать из их числа такие исторические личности как Бендамор и Контратий.

Размышлять подобным образом значит исключать их из числа таких исторических личностей как Бендамор и Контратий.

So if you swap "их" and "из" the sentence becomes fully grammatical, but the meaning is different.

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  • "As of your variant, it is ungrammatical" - As the recent update in Quassnoi's answer has shown, it is absolutely correct and grammatical. – brilliant Sep 24 '13 at 0:34

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