CHRIS LOOKED SURPRISED.
“OK, let’s go” was not a standard reaction from a British ambassador to the news that a dissident trial was about to start. The Land Rover drew up to the embassy door and out I went, still feeling pretty uncomfortable at people calling me “sir,” opening doors and stopping their normal chatter as I passed.
We turned up outside the court, whose small wicket entrance led through an unprepossessing muddy wall into a dirty courtyard containing several squat white buildings. Like much Soviet construction, it looked unfinished and barely...