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Tuesday, 26 December, 2000, 17:45 GMT
Court dismisses Gusinsky case
Vladimir Gusinsky
Gusinsky has been a relentless critic of the Kremlin
A court in Moscow has thrown out the fraud case against Russian media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky as unfounded, signalling a possible end to his house arrest in Spain.

Mr Gusinsky was detained by Spanish police in November following the issue of a Russian warrant for his arrest.

He was freed on bail, but placed under house arrest on Friday.


The court has recognised that Gusinsky is being investigated under a fabricated case

Pavel Astakhov
Gusinsky lawyer

The Russian authorities want to question Mr Gusinsky about alleged fraud, estimated at $250m, involving his media empire, Media Most.

Mr Gusinsky refutes the allegations, and his supporters say a series of criminal cases against him are part of a Kremlin campaign to silence critics.

His Media Most company, which controls Russia's only nationwide independent television network has fiercely criticised the Putin government's handling of the war in Chechnya.

"This is an important decision that shows that the Gusinsky case is unfounded," said Mr Gusinsky's lawyer Pavel Astakhov.

Prosecutors say they will appeal against the ruling.

Legal challenge

Mr Gusinsky's legal team is expected to request Spanish authorities to dismiss an extradition case against him.

A Media Most spokesman said he was delighted with the decision.

"It shows that the charges brought against Gusinsky do not hold water, and that Spanish justice has simply been misled," said Dmitry Ostalsky.

Another of Mr Gusinsky lawyers said the ruling meant that prosecutors had to drop the case.

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See also:

22 Dec 00 | Europe
Gusinsky freed on bail
12 Dec 00 | Europe
Russian media baron held in Spain
13 Nov 00 | Europe
Russian media boss charged
16 Jun 00 | Europe
Gusinsky: Thorn in Putin's side
28 Mar 00 | Business
Russia's new oligarchs
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