International criticism has been mounting over the June 13 arrest of Vladimir Gusinsky, founder and head of the Media-Most holding. U.S. President Bill Clinton said yesterday that while he did not have “all the facts” concerning the media mogul’s arrest, he did not believe that people “should be arrested solely because of what they say in exercising their role as members of the press.” Clinton insisted that he had made “a very strong statement” about press freedom while in Moscow earlier this month. While in Moscow, the U.S. president gave an interview to Media-Most’s Radio Ekho Moskvy, which some observers interpreted as an indirect gesture of support for the embattled Gusinsky (see the Monitor, June 5). If that was indeed the case, the gesture of solidarity apparently made little impression on those responsible for Gusinsky’s arrest.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak expressed concern over the arrest of Gusinsky, who heads the Russian branch of the World Jewish Congress. Natan Sharansky, Israel’s interior minister and a former Soviet dissident, said that “the manner in which Gusinsky was arrested gives the impression that he has been detained for political reasons, contrary to the denials of the Russian authorities.” Likewise, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) demanded that the Russian authorities fully explain Gusinsky’s arrest. Freimut Duve, the OSCE representative for media freedom, wrote a letter to Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, which said that Gusinsky’s arrest raised questions about press freedom in Russia (Agence France Presse, June 14).
…AS DO SOME OF GUSINSKY’S FELLOW OLIGARCHS.