Russian tycoon in Greek custody

Former media tycoon Vladmir Gusinsky, who was arrested in Athens last week will soon learn whether or not he faces extradition to Moscow on charges of fraud.

    Gusinsky fell out of favour with the Kremlin under Putin

    The past owner of the popular Russian NTV television network, “will appear Monday before the prosecutor of the Athens court of appeal and then the council of this court will make a decision on his extradition", said Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas.

    Gusinsky’s arrest “"was based on an arrest warrant issued by Russia and a Greek-Russian agreement on cooperation in judicial matters,” he added.

    But those comments seem to contradict earlier statements made by Greek police on Saturday – which suggested Gusinsky had been arrested on an international arrest warrant issued by Interpol.

    His media outlets, which were renowned for freely reporting sensitive stories such as the wars in Chechnya and administrative corruption.

    Greek police have said that Gusinsky, who holds joint Russian and Israeli nationality, was wanted by Moscow for allegedly swindling the Russian state out of $250 million. He is also accused of fraudulent privatisation and money laundering.

    A Russian foreign ministry spokesman confirmed that negotiations were underway on Gusinsky's extradition to Russia, but said his office had no further information on the matter.

    Since his fall from political grace in Russia under President Vladimir Putin, the former owner of the prestigious NTV television channel and other media, has been living abroad.

    He moved to Israel from Spain in April 2001 after a Spanish court refused to extradite him to Moscow on an earlier fraud warrant.

    His media outlets, which were renowned for freely reporting sensitive stories such as the wars in Chechnya and administrative corruption, were also quickly taken over by pro-Kremlin interests.

    Police arrested him at Athens's Eleftherios Venizelos Airport after he arrived on a flight from Tel Aviv.

    Putin has moved to stifle the influence of the super-rich business barons and regional strongmen who had dominated the country under the rule of his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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