His television network belongs to the gas company now, and his news publications are closed, but Vladimir Gusinsky is a free man. The Kremlin can’t stand it.
A Spanish court denied Russia’s request for extradition, released Gusinsky from house arrest, returned his $5 million bail, and gave him back his Russian and Israeli passports. Russia’s prosecutor general immediately filed new moneylaundering charges against Gusinsky and asked Interpol to pick him up. The Kremlin insists its vendetta is apolitical and seems to revel in its hypocrisy.
Tax police filed charges against the chief financial officer at TNT, a small television station still owned by Gusinsky where a number of ex-NTV journalists hope to find work. Sergei Yastrzhembsky, who runs the Kremlin’s information department, described TNT last week as “opposition media,” along with Boris Berezovsky’s TV-6 and TV-Tsenter, a station operated by the Moscow city government. Of course with Moscow’s Mayor Yury Luzhkov now a Kremlin ally, TV-Tsenter may become part of the co-opted opposition.