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On the products the labels sometimes say "Не содержит кофеин" Ref1 (accusative), and sometimes "Не содержит кофеина" Ref2 (genitive) (both meaning "No caffeine present"). Which one is correct? (On references see the images themselves).

If you make it a positive statement "Содержит кофеин" (accusative), then you will no longer be able to construct a genitive phrase that is correct but still uses the verb. However, if you say "Нет кофеина" or "Без кофеина", then it's always genitive, but that is clearly a different grammatical structure, so it is not possible to generalise from these.

P.S. You can use it with other nouns as well, I've selected caffeine just to talk about something concrete. It could just as well be "Не содержит сахар/сахара" ("No sugar present").

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  • Note: I am a native russian speaker, so please don't tell me that these things are in any way clear cut.
    – v010dya
    Dec 19 '13 at 14:42
  • Yes, @jwalker, it's a duplicate.
    – Yellow Sky
    Dec 19 '13 at 20:40
  • Its not duplicate.
    – Serg
    Jan 1 '14 at 22:55
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There is completely no difference in Russian. But sometimes accusative could tell that "the" should be used. For example:

"I don't see the table" should be translated as "Я не вижу стол"

"I don't see a table" should be translated as "Я не вижу стола"

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I think It was already answered. You most likely use accusative when in English you would use definite article and Genitive when you would use indefinite article (or the word "any").

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