Vladimir Gusinsky, head of Russian media empire Media Most, was taken into police custody in Spain late Monday night, just a few weeks after the Russian authorities placed him on an international wanted list in connection with fraud charges.
Gusinsky, who was picked up in the southern beach resort of Sotogrande, near Cadiz, is being detained pending a Spanish National Court decision on whether to extradite him. He has been residing in Spain since July, when he left Moscow after a set of similar charges against him were mysteriously dropped.
Gusinsky is being charged with embezzling company assets which served as collateral on a $211m loan from gas company Gazprom, but he is claiming that he is the victim of political persecution. Media Most's interests, including national TV network NTV and newspaper Segodnya, have taken a critical stance against Russian president Vladimir Putin's government.
Gazprom recently hammered out a debt relief settlement with Media Most under which it receives a 25% blocking stake in the company. The agreement, which also called for 25% of NTV to be sold to a foreign investor, cleared the bulk of Media Most's debt, but didn't settle the charges against its top executive.