Media Most chief Vladimir Gusinsky left Russia to join his family in Spain last week after the criminal case against him of defrauding the Russian government of $10m was dropped due to lack of evidence.

Gusinsky spent four days in prison earlier this year when the charges were first brought against him. As recently as last month, his Moscow suburban mansion and its contents were impounded by the Russian Prosecutor General, a move which Russian authorities said was usual in embezzlement cases.

There is widespread speculation that Gusinsky made concessions to the Kremlin in order to get the charges dropped. Media Most's TV stations and publications have been openly critical of government, leading the local media and business communities to claim his arrest was politically motivated.

Gusinsky's sudden departure from Moscow meant he was not able to attend a top level meeting of 18 major business figures with Russian president Vladimir Putin last Friday.