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Russians fear Pussy Riot trial is just the start

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The latest person to weigh in on the case is Russia's best-known prisoner, oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who has now spent almost a decade in prison after being twice convicted, in the same Moscow courtroom, on charges that most observers believe were politically motivated. 

In a statement posted on his defense lawyer's website, Mr. Khodorkovsky said the Pussy Riot trial is yet another sign that Russia under Vladimir Putin is not a rule-of-law state but a nation where courts obey political dictates, meting out punishment to those who criticize the Kremlin while ignoring the mass corruption and official abuses of those in power. 

"I am very ashamed and hurt," Khodorkovsky wrote. "Not because of these girls – the mistakes of youthful radicalism can be forgiven – but for the state, which is profaning our Russia with its complete and utter lack of conscience… We have been deprived of an honest and independent judiciary, of the opportunity to defend ourselves and to protect people from lawlessness." 

"I don’t know how the girls endure it," he added. 

The three Pussy Riot women were arrested after they voluntarily left the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow following their brief Feb. 21 performance, but police merely took down their names and quickly released them. Legal experts say that's probably how big city cops in almost any country would handle a minor disorder of that sort. 

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