Moscow, 14 June 2000 (RFE/RL) - Seventeen of Russia's top businessmen today sent an open letter to President Vladimir Putin protesting yesterday's arrest of media tycoon Vladimir Gusinsky. The signatories said they were afraid they could face the same fate as Gusinsky, now being questioned in a Moscow prison.
They urged the authorities to set Gusinsky free, saying he will cooperate with investigating authorities. The signatories include the head of giant gas company, Gazprom, Rem Vyakhirev, and the boss of the UES electricity monopoly, Anatoly Chubais.
Gusinsky is accused of defrauding the state but some Russian and foreign politicians fear the arrest is an attempt to curb his Media-Most company whose television, radio, and print group has often criticized the Kremlin.
Russia's stock market fell by 3.2 percent on news of the arrest.