Continued from page 1

Jailed Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whose convictions on tax evasion and embezzlement charges have been widely seen as politically motivated, has come out to support the band.

Khodorkovsky wrote in a message that his lawyers made public on Monday that “it’s painful to follow what’s happening at the Khamovniki Court in Moscow” — the same courtroom where he got his second conviction in December 2010. “The word ‘tried’ can be used here only in a sense of medieval inquisition.”

Khodorkovsky described the case as “a disgrace of a great country, a country of world-known humanists and scientists, which is quickly turning into a backward Asian province.”

The three women are facing daily court hearings for some 12 hours — unusually long for Russian courts.

Khodorkovsky speculated that the judge may be rushing the trial to get it wrapped up before the end of the London Olympics so that “our disgrace would not sound as loud as it could.”

Laura Mills in Moscow contributed to this report.