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Russia: Putin Meets With Business Tycoons

Moscow, 28 July 2000 (RFE/RL) - President Vladimir Putin will meet today with Russian business tycoons in an attempt to ease rising tensions following legal action against several big companies. The tycoons, dubbed "oligarchs," have been accused of using their political connections to amass huge fortunes in the early 1990s. Putin promised before he was elected in March that he would make the oligarchs play by the rules. The pledge was welcomed by ordinary Russians, but business barons and some observers fear the crackdown on business could signal a trend toward more authoritarian rule.

Some 20 oligarchs have been invited to today's meeting. Reports say Boris Berezovsky was not among those invited. Berezovsky last week resigned as a member of the lower house to protest Putin's attempts to curb the power of regional leaders and what Berezovsky said was an attack against private business.

Vladimir Gusinsky, the head of media empire Media-MOST, will also not attend. Gusinsky left for Spain earlier this week after prosecutors closed an inquiry against him.