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Monday, 26 March, 2001, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Russian tycoon released on bail
Vladimir Gusinsky answering questions at his extradition hearing
Mr Gusinsky objected to being treated like a criminal
A court in Spain has freed the Russian media tycoon, Vladimir Gusinsky, on bail for the second time.

The National Court ordered him to report to the police daily while his possible extradition to Russia was considered.

Gusinsky's progress
1999 - Switches sides to join anti-govt camp
June 2000 - Briefly arrested in Russia for fraud
12 December - Re-arrested in Spain for fraud
22 December - Bailed pending extradition hearing
March 2001 - Re-arrested after date for extradition hearing announced
He was arrested in Spain on an international warrant last December, after the Russian authorities accused him of multi-million-dollar fraud.

Mr Gusinsky says the charges are politically motivated because of his criticism of the government in Moscow.

Mr Gusinsky is expected to return to his luxury villa at Sotto Grande near the southern port of Cadiz later on Monday.

Bail wrangle

The Associated Press news agency quoted court sources as saying that the ruling indicated the three-judge panel had already rejected the extradition request but had not made it public.

Vladimir Gusinsky in court
Mr Gusinsky has promised not to leave Spain

A court statement said that the bail of $5.5m from Mr Gusinsky's previous arrest would be maintained.

He was originally given bail 10 days after his first arrest, but was imprisoned again two weeks ago when the date of his extradition hearing was set.

Spanish prosecutors have said that they fear that Mr Gusinsky will leave the country - he has an Israeli passport and might be given sanctuary there.

But he says that he would not leave as his wife and children are settled with him in Spain.

'Political' case

Russian prosecutors say Mr Gusinsky overstated the assets of Media-Most to get $300m in loan guarantees in 1996 from state gas company Gazprom.

But Mr Gusinsky says that he can prove that all debts to Gazprom have been paid.

He maintains that the case against him is political not criminal, and regards it as a test for freedom of expression and the future of the independent media in Russia.

Media-Most has remained staunchly critical of the President Vladimir Putin's government, especially over the war in Chechnya.

Mr Gusinsky's Moscow-based television channel, NTV, has shown Russians a vision of the Chechen conflict very different than the one presented in the official media.

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See also:

16 Mar 01 | Europe
Gusinsky to remain in jail
16 Jun 00 | Europe
Gusinsky: Thorn in Putin's side
28 Mar 00 | Business
Russia's new oligarchs
26 Dec 00 | Europe
Court dismisses Gusinsky case
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