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The Russian National Corpus gives numerous examples of both заслуживать внимание and заслуживать внимания (without negation). Is this an instance when either case can be used with this verb? I understand that one means more or less "deserves" or "earn" while the other means more or less "is worthy of".

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  • Please disregard my (deleted) answer. My parallels with the indefinite/definite marking of the negative genitive/accusative weren't very well thought through. Shouldn't do this while tired. Jan 28, 2015 at 17:46

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I would say the two are definitely not synonymous.

-- Почему он так внимательно слушает эту женщину?
-- Мне кажется, он заслуживает её внимание. (He is earning [seeking] her attention)

-- Почему эта женщина так внимательно его слушает?
-- Мне кажется, он заслуживает её внимания. (He deserves [is worthy of] her attention)

So there is заслуживать = зарабатывать and there is заслуживать = быть достойным.

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Avi Gordon is correct saying that the verb заслуживать can be translated as to seek as well as to deserve, but in the phrase

Он заслуживает внимания.

there is the Genitive partitive, i.e. he deserves (some, not all) attention.

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