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Gusinsky facing fresh charges

Gusinsky
Gusinsky plans to leave Spain for Israel  

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Russian prosecutors have made a fresh bid to have Vladimir Gusinsky extradited back to Moscow from Spain to face criminal charges.

The Russian Prosecutor General's office has brought new charges of money laundering and given a new arrest warrant to the Russian bureau of Interpol, Interfax news agency reports.

The media magnate was originally arrested four months ago at his villa in Sotogrande, Spain.

He was held under house arrest until last Wednesday, when a Spanish court turned down Moscow 's request to extradite him on charges of fraud and embezzlement, stating that the crimes he was accused of were not considered crimes in Spain.

The court also found there was a possibility the charges were politically motivated.

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Gusinsky claims the charges were directed by the Kremlin, which is retaliating for his media outlets' critical stance toward the Russian government.

But the Kremlin claims it is a financial issue, that Gusinsky borrowed money on false pretenses and then refused to pay it back.

Gusinsky dismisses new charges

Gusinsky was released from house arrest and was planning to travel to Israel on Tuesday. He has dual Russian and Israeli citizenship.

A statement by Gusinsky's lawyers in Madrid dismissed the new allegation as "fictitious."

"This order represents a use of Interpol and the Spanish justice system for a purpose which the courts have already turned down, as well as a flagrant mockery of an international treaty," the statement said.

It added the charge was part of the Russian government's campaign for the "complete plunder of independent media that have maintained freedom of speech in Russia."

Gusinsky spokesman Dimitry Ostalsky was quoted by Interfax as saying there was "nothing real" about the charges being brought against the businessman.

"In my view, the prosecutor is trying to save face."

The television network Gusinsky founded, NTV, has been taken over by its largest creditor, the partially government-owned gas monopoly, Gazprom.

His newspaper, Sevodnya, has been closed and Itogi magazine, a joint venture with Newsweek, has fired its staff and hired new reporters and editors.



RELATED STORIES:
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April 24, 2001
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RELATED SITES:
Russian Government
Interpol

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