The head of Interpol, the international crime fighting organization, has stated publicly that Russia’s criminal proceedings against Media-Most founder Vladimir Gusinsky are politically motivated. In a letter to a British law firm representing Gusinsky, Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble described the case against the tycoon, whom prosecutors in Moscow have charged with large-scale fraud, as having “a predominant political character” and said that evidence supplied by Interpol’s Moscow should not be included in the organization’s files. Media-Most spokesman Dmitry Ostalsky said Noble’s letter proved “unconditionally that the actions taken against Gusinsky are political” (NTV.ru, Reuters, July 9).
Last year, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office issued an international arrest warrant for Gusinsky on charges of large-scale fraud, involving accusations that he had defrauded the Gazprom natural gas monopoly by taking out hundreds of millions of dollars in loans for Media-Most. Gusinsky was arrested at his villa in southern Spain in December, but it was never made clear whether Interpol played a role in that arrest. Indeed, some Russian media reported at the time that Interpol was denying any involvement in the case. Immediately after Gusinsky’s arrest, the European Parliament’s working group on human rights wrote a letter to Noble asking him to examine the case to determine whether political motives were involved (see the Monitor, December 13).
Earlier this year, a Spanish judicial tribunal turned down Moscow’s request for Gusinsky’s extradition. While the tribunal did not accuse the Russian authorities of having political motives in prosecuting Gusinsky, its decision referred to “questionable circumstances and peculiarities” in the prosecution effort (see the Monitor, April 19). Russian prosecutors subsequently issued another warrant for Gusinsky, this time for money laundering, and forwarded the charges to the Moscow bureau of Interpol (see the Monitor, April 24). In early May, the Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the U.S. authorities for failing to detain Gusinsky, who had traveled to Washington. The U.S. government rejected the criticism, with an anonymous State Department official calling the charges against Gusinsky politically motivated and accusing the Russian authorities of trying to silence critical media (see the Monitor, May 7).
…WHILE PROSECUTORS IMPOUND MEDIA-MOST PROPERTY.