Russia’s Interior Ministry said late last week that the U.S. bureau of Interpol, the international crime fighting agency, should search for Media-Most founder Vladimir Gusinsky if he shows up on American soil and provide local police agencies there with sufficient information to detain him. The Interior Ministry statement followed announcements by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office last week that it was charging Gusinsky with having laundered 2.8 billion rubles (nearly US$100 million) from loans that Media-Most received from Gazprom and that it had sent a new arrest warrant to Interpol. Vladimir Ustinov, Russia’s prosecutor general, said he wanted to see Gusinsky tried in Russia and a Prosecutor General’s Office spokesman said that Gusinsky would have to “run like a hare” to avoid extradition (Lenta.ru, April 27; Russian agencies, April 24-25; Moscow Times, April 26).
Gusinsky, apparently, did just that. The new criminal charges against him came shortly after a three-judge panel in Spain ruled not to honor a request from the Russian authorities that he be extradited on charges of large-scale fraud. After the judges’ ruling, Gusinsky left Spain for Israel via Gibraltar–and apparently did so just in the nick of time. According to a report attributed to the Gibraltar Chronicle, Spanish police arrived at Gusinsky’s villa in southern Spain on April 24 to arrest him on the money laundering charges. For his part, Gusinsky said in an interview with Spain’s El Mundo that the money laundering charges were a “typical operation of the Russian special services” (Lenta.ru, April 26). The Russian Interior Ministry’s comments about the U.S. Interpol bureau’s obligation to seek out Gusinsky on American soil appears to be related to the fact that the tycoon plans to travel in early May to Washington, where he will speak to the National Press Club on the subject of press freedom and Russia’s future (Lenta.ru, April 27). Gusinsky and his lawyers were summoned to appear for questioning at the Prosecutor General’s Office in Moscow for questioning in connection with the new charges. That planned interrogation has now been set for May 3. Media-Most lawyer Yury Bagraev noted that Gusinsky is currently in Israel and has no plans to return to Moscow (Lenta.ru, April 28).
THE GHOSTS OF SOVIET PAST COME ALIVE IN CHISINAU.