Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 132

The Media-Most group’s troubles with the authorities increased yesterday, when the Prosecutor General’s Office arrested Mikhail Aleksandrov, an assistant to Media-Most founder and chief Vladimir Gusinsky, after he appeared for questioning. Aleksandrov was charged with illegal weapons possession, in connections with pistol cartridges found in his desk during the on Media-Most’s Moscow headquarters on May 1. The cartridges belonged to a PSM pistol Gusinsky received several years ago as a government prize. Gusinsky himself was arrested and briefly jailed on June 13 after appearing at the Prosecutor General’s Office to answer questions about the ammunition. The media magnate remains under investigation for allegedly embezzling state funds (Russian agencies, July 6; the Monitor, June 14).

Aleksandrov, whose apartment was searched yesterday, was released from custody later in the day after experiencing high blood pressure while undergoing interrogation. He was released after agreeing not to leave Moscow during the period of the investigation. While he was supposed to appear for questioning again this morning, Aleksandrov was instead placed in the intensive care wing of Moscow’s Myasnikov Institute for Clinical Cardiology. A Media-Most lawyer, Pavel Astakhov, charged today that after Aleksandrov fell ill during his interrogation, Vladimir Danilov, a senior investigator from the Prosecutor General’s Office, threatened not to release him if he failed to “give evidence.” Astakhov called the charges against Aleksandrov “absurd” and a continuation of the authorities’ campaign against Gusinsky. Yesterday, Deputy Prosecutor General Vasily Kolmogorov emphasized that the criminal case against Aleksandrov was separate from the one against Gusinsky.

Segodnya, Media-Most’s daily newspaper, featured an article attacking Danilov on its front page today. The paper accused the investigator, among other things, of using the tactics of 1937–a year which marked the height of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s purges. In this connection, it is interesting to note the ties between Gusinsky’s and Aleksandrov’s families. According to Dmitry Ostalsky, head of Media-Most’s press service, Aleksandrov’s grandfather and grandmother gave shelter to Gusinsky’s mother and her sister after Gusinsky’s grandfather was shot as an “enemy of the people” in 1937 (Russian agencies, July 6-7; Segodnya, July 7).

Kolmogorov sent a letter today to Aleksandr Gurov, chairman of the State Duma’s security committee, officially outlining the basis for the criminal case against Gusinsky. The letter claimed that the Prosecutor General’s Office had collected sufficient evidence, including testimony of witnesses, documents and expert analysis, to make the case that Gusinsky had fraudulently come into possession of the state company “Russian Video–11th Television Channel,” which had been illegally privatized. The letter charges that Gusinsky and Dmitri Rozhdestvensky, Russian Video general director, had entered to a “criminal conspiracy.” Rozhdestvensky has been in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison since 1998 on charges of stealing state funds and tax evasion (see the Monitor, June 15).