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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 October, 2003, 11:32 GMT 12:32 UK
Greece refuses to extradite tycoon
Vladimir Gusinsky during Spanish extradition battle
Mr Gusinsky had already beaten an extradition request in Spain
A Greek court has refused a request from the Russian authorities for the extradition of fugitive media tycoon Vladimir Gusinsky on fraud and money laundering charges.

"The court ruled against extradition. It orders the (arrest) warrant to be made void and lift the restrictions of movement and return bail," presiding judge Nikos Fagiolas said.

Moscow had demanded that Greece hand over Mr Gusinsky, who was arrested on an international warrant in Athens on 21 August on returning to Greece from Israel.

Prosecutors accuse him of involvement in a $250m fraud case.

No crime

Mr Gusinsky, 50, who once controlled Russia's influential NTV television network, denies the charges, which he says are politically motivated in retaliation for NTV's critical coverage of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his war in Chechnya.

After he left Russia in 2000 his media empire was dismantled.

There have been claims that some in the Russian Government want to limit the power of the country's super-rich, to ensure they do not cross the line from business into politics.

The hearing lasted little more that one minute with the judge declaring that the charges levelled against the tycoon did not constitute a crime under Greek law.

Mr Gusinsky is now free to leave Greece.

The court's ruling follows a refusal by a Spanish court to extradite Mr Gusinsky in 2001, on similar grounds.

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