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Russia: Charges Against Media Baron Dropped

Moscow, 27 July 2000 (RFE/RL) - Russian media are reporting today that the fraud case against media mogul Vladimir Gusinsky has been dropped. Gusinsky, owner of Russia's only national independent television network, was jailed for four days in June after being arrested on charges of cheating the government of $10 million in a privatization deal. Authorities also seized documents from the company's offices several times. ITAR-TASS today quotes Gusinsky's lawyer, Pavel Astakhov, as saying Gusinsky had flown to Spain to be with his family following the news. Gusinsky had been under a travel ban pending the outcome of the investigation.

TASS and Russia's NTV report that the Prosecutor's office concluded that there was a "lack of evidence that a crime had been committed." The prosecutor also reportedly reversed an order to put a freeze on Gusinsky's personal belongings.

Gusinsky had said it was part of a Kremlin plot to intimidate him and silence his media companies. The authorities denied that the charges were political.