Russian authorities have reportedly asked Interpol to put embattled Media Most chief Vladimir Gusinsky, who is currently living abroad, on an international wanted list, in connection with fraud charges.
A domestic arrest warrant has already been issued, but Gusinsky's lawyer has said his client has no intention of returning home. Russian prosecutors are charging him with misrepresenting Media Most's assets when he accepted loans of more than $300m from state-owned gas giant Gazprom. However Gusinsky claims he is being punished for criticism levelled at the Russian government through Media Most's various outlets, including broadcaster NTV.
Gusinsky was jailed for three days earlier this year on similar charges which were subsequently dropped (ScreenDaily, July 31). Then last month, Gusinsky and Gazprom finally hammered out a debt relief settlement under which the gas company receives a 25% blocking stake in Media Most. The agreement, which also called for 25% of NTV to be sold to a foreign investor, put Media Most in the clear, but did not appear to settle the charges against its top executive.
According to a Media Most spokesperson, Gusinsky is dividing his time between the UK, Gibraltar, Israel and Spain but has been making his whereabouts known. His business rival Boris Berezovsky is also currently living abroad and refusing to appear for questioning before a Russian prosecutor. Berezovsky owns a stake in Russia's largest broadcaster ORT, but the charges against him are in connection with a case involving embezzlement at state airline Aeroflot.