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Friday, 5 January, 2001, 15:14 GMT
Court reinstates charges against Gusinsky
Vladimir Gusinsky
Gusinsky will take his case to the Supreme Court
By Russian Affairs Analyst Stephen Dalziel

A Moscow city court has overturned a ruling by a lower tribunal that fraud charges against Russian media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky were illegal.

Mr Gusinsky is currently under house arrest in Spain, awaiting the outcome of an extradition request by the Russian prosecutor-general.

But while the struggle between the prosecutor and Mr Gusinsky has swung back in the prosecutor's favour, it is still far from certain whether the media baron will return to face trial in Moscow on charges of fraud.

A spokesman for Mr Gusinsky's Media-Most holding said that his supporters had expected this latest ruling to go against them, and were now pinning their hopes on the Supreme Court.

If necessary, they will go to the European Court of Human Rights.

Politics or fraud?

Media-Most maintains that the case against Mr Gusinsky is political.

It claims the action reflects a desire by President Vladimir Putin to clamp down on media outlets which oppose him.

The Prosecutor-General's Office dismisses such claims, saying that it is pursuing Mr Gusinsky because of alleged fraud in his business deals.

The prosecutor alleges that Mr Gusinsky cheated the state when he purchased a St Petersburg television channel in 1997, and sent money to offshore accounts to avoid paying off debts.

In the meantime, the Spanish authorities await the outcome of the legal wrangling in Moscow.

They took Mr Gusinsky into custody a month ago in response to an international arrest warrant issued by the Russian prosecutor, and later agreed to keep him under house arrest, after he had spent two weeks in prison.

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See also:

26 Dec 00 | Europe
Court dismisses Gusinsky case
22 Dec 00 | Europe
Gusinsky freed on bail
16 Jun 00 | Europe
Gusinsky: Thorn in Putin's side
28 Mar 00 | Business
Russia's new oligarchs
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