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The BBC's Rob Parsons in Moscow
"The charges against him still stand"
 real 28k

Friday, 16 June, 2000, 23:46 GMT 00:46 UK
Media mogul freed after charges
Gusinsky on release from prison
Gusinsky has been told not to leave the country
Russian media tycoon, Vladimir Gusinsky, has been released from jail after being charged with embezzlement.

Mr Gusinsky was freed at the request of his lawyers and told not to leave the country.

Genry Reznik
Mr Gusinsky's lawyer, Genry Reznik, leaves prison
His supporters had waited in the rain outside Moscow's notorious Butyrka Prison to celebrate his freedom.

Earlier on Friday the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, described his detention as "excessive". But he denied any political motivation behind the arrest.

Angry reaction

Mr Gusinsky, the owner of Russia's only independent media empire which includes NTV television, the newspaper Sevodnya and the radio station Ekho Moskvy, is accused of stealing state property valued at $10m.

The claim is that he bought a majority stake in the privatisation of a St Petersburg television station for a fraction of its true value.

Gusinsky's empire
NTV- Main commercial station
Sevodnya - Liberal newspaper
Itogi- Liberal Magazine
Ekho Moskvy - Talk Radio station
Seven Days - TV and Radio guide
Internet-Media Online

The arrest of the man whose publications frequently criticised the policies of the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin, had brought angry reactions from several prominent Russians.

The media mogul has already described the charges as nonsense and proof that the state was ready to do anything to achieve its goals.

Putin in Germany

On a visit to Germany, Mr Putin told businessmen that Mr Gusinsky was arrested on allegations relating to his role as a businessman, not as a journalist.

"It isn't about him as a representative of the mass media or a journalist or editor. He is a businessman," Mr Putin said.

"I assume in Germany you pay taxes, am I right?"

But he added: "One certainly had other possibilities such as to question him without an arrest."

Late on Friday, the United States said the release was a step in the right direction.

The White House had been critical of Mr Gusinsky's arrest and on Thursday 52 members of the U.S. Congress sent President Bill Clinton a letter urging him to intervene on the media mogul's behalf.

"We are pleased that Mr. Gusinksy has been released.

"President Putin and his government appear to be taking steps to close this troubling episode," said P.J. Crowley, spokesman for the White House National Security Agency.

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See also:

16 Jun 00 | Europe
Gusinsky: Thorn in Putin's side
16 Jun 00 | Media reports
Gusinsky: Russia on 'totalitarian' path
05 Jun 00 | Media reports
Kremlin pulls strings on TV puppets
28 Mar 00 | Business
Russia's new oligarchs
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