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Ex-Russian media mogul in custody

Gusinsky claims the charges against him are politically motivated.

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ATHENS, Greece (CNN) -- Former Russian media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky, wanted by Russian authorities on fraud and money laundering charges, has been arrested in Greece, police at Athens International Airport said.

Gusinsky, 50, was arrested at the airport Friday on a warrant issued by Interpol, police told CNN, and was to appear before a judge Sunday.

Gusinsky could be prosecuted in a Greek court or returned to Russia after an extradition proceeding. Russia had not requested extradition but was expected to do so.

Airport police said Gusinsky, who holds dual Russian-Israeli citizenship, arrived in Athens on a flight from Tel Aviv.

He had flown to Israel in April 2001 after a successful year-long court fight against extradition from Spain, where he had been arrested on Russian fraud charges.

Russian prosecutors said Gusinsky overstated the assets of his holding company, Media-Most, to win $262 million in loan guarantees in 1996 from Russia's state-owned gas giant Gazprom. The Spanish court said Russia's grounds for the case would not amount to a crime in Spain.

Russia responded with a new warrant charging Gusinsky with laundering $97 million connected with the loans -- a more serious crime in Spain -- but the warrant arrived in Spain after Gusinsky had flown to Israel.

Gusinsky's popular and independent NTV network -- founded in 1993 -- came under heavy fire from Russia's government for its sharp criticism of President Vladimir Putin and his policies, particularly in the breakaway region of Chechnya.

Gazprom took controlling interest in the network in 2001 and installed new management. Critics warned the change was an attack on Russia's independent press. In May 2001, a Russian court dissolved Media-Most.

Gusinsky has denied the charges against him and claimed that they are politically motivated.

-- Journalist Elisabeth Filippoulis contributed to this report.

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