“Pussy Riot trial ‘worse than Soviet era’,” according to one of the group’s lawyers. Indeed, I have read Russian bloggers compare this “trial” to Soviet-era trials of Joseph Brodsky (1964, for “social parasitism”) and of Andrey Sinyavsky and Yuly Daniel (1965-6, for publishing their work abroad).

Worse, because it’s a complete circus and the defendants are being mildly tortured, as John Yoo might have put it in a slightly different context. While Russia’s economy, although still very unsophisticated, is at least growing, its legal system seems to be merging itself disgracefully into the executive.

There’s simply no comparison between country’s criminal justice now and a hundred years ago, when there were real trials with real juries and vigorous defense-prosecution duels. Think of the great acquittals of the 1870s-80s, of the great defense lawyers, of Dostoyevsky discussing criminal cases in his brother’s publication, etc.

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