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Friday, 16 June, 2000, 16:10 GMT 17:10 UK
Gusinsky: Russia on 'totalitarian' path
Vladimir Gusinsky
Statement dubs arrest an attack on freedom of speech
Russian newspaper Sevodnya has published a trenchant attack by its owner Vladimir Gusinsky on "high-ranking" Kremlin officials he believes to be behind his arrest.

The following is the text of the statement, entitled "Regime begins move toward totalitarianism".

This is the third day since I was illegally deprived of my liberty.

I could not describe their flimsy case in my deposition as anything but legally and semantically absurd...

Vladimir Gusinsky

The third day that none of those who staged this squalid show have been able to clearly tell me not only in legally defensible but also in grammatically correct or even articulate language the regime's charges against me!

During the first official interrogation I witnessed the perfectly incredible scene of two investigators spending almost half an hour interrupting one another and arguing in a vain attempt to produce a form of words for their suspicions against me.

I could not describe their flimsy case in my deposition as anything but legally and semantically absurd, evidence of the investigation's complete lack of professionalism and unfamiliarity with basic Russian legislation.

'Political intrigue'

However, it is very easy to explain all the difficulties experienced by the Prosecutor's Office and those who provide them with informational and political cover - and they, regrettably, include former staff and journalists who worked previously at Media- Most.

This is a political intrigue organised by high-ranking representatives of the "regime".

Raid on newspaper
Russian police raid a Gusinsky newspaper

For them freedom of speech poses a danger and an obstacle to the implementation of their plans to build what they see as the "new Russia" but is in actual fact a backwards move to the totalitarian past.

In the past there was also a "strong regime" with Gulags and "dictatorship of law" with appointed judges who were "overseen" by the CPSU Central Committee.

Threat to the powerful

In addition, freedom of speech - freedom to know the truth about many representatives of the current regime - means a personal threat, a threat to their power, their uncontrolled income, their ability to commit arbitrary acts in the name of and under the protection of the state machine.

This is a regime which has begun the move toward the creation of a totalitarian regime, whether it realizes it or not.

Vladimir Gusinsky

In this period, I have seen for myself that human malice, hypocrisy, and cynicism know no bounds.

Anyone who has been a coward or a traitor will easily understand that I am referring to them.

So there is no point in naming names. They are, regrettably, well known and in the public domain.

Thanks for support

Nonetheless that is not why I am sending you this note.

I am profoundly grateful to those who have backed me now in a situation where every word of sympathy or support for me and my colleagues could be viewed as a challenge to the regime.

This is a regime which has begun the move toward the creation of a totalitarian regime, whether it realises it or not.

I will not hide the fact that there have been far more courageous people prepared to openly voice their opinion than I expected.

It is just a shame that the need for this unity and mutual support has arisen in such dramatic circumstances.

Vladimir Gusinsky, Butyrka jail, 15 June 2000.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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