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Russia: Spanish Judge Snubs Prosecutor In Gusinsky Case

Madrid, 23 January 2001 (RFE/RL) -- A Russian prosecutor who traveled to Spain to try to win support for the extradition of media mogul Vladimir Gusinsky was snubbed by Spanish court officials today. Judge Baltasar Garzon refused Deputy Prosecutor Vasily Kolmogorov's request for a private hearing and met with him for five minutes at his office in the National Court in Madrid. Gusinsky was arrested in December in Spain, on a warrant from Moscow, accusing him of embezzlement. Spanish authorities later transferred him to house arrest and are now considering an extradition request from Russia.

Gusinsky has denied any wrongdoing and says the charges against him are politically motivated retribution.

Gusinsky's Media-MOST company owns the independent NTV television network, which has often been critical of President Vladimir Putin and his policies, including the war in Chechnya.

Meanwhile, a prominent Russian politician says President Putin welcomes CNN founder Ted Turner's effort to possibly buy a stake in Russia's leading independent television station.

Boris Gryzlov, parliamentary leader of the pro-Putin Unity party, said Putin disclosed his position during a meeting yesterday.

Turner has been seeking assurances from Putin that the government would not interfere with NTV's editorial policy if he purchases a 25 percent stake.

But Putin has refused to give such a guarantee, and Gryzlov said it is improper to demand political guarantees when making a private investment.

NTV officials say Turner's investment would give Media-MOST enough cash to cover debts it owes to state-controlled gas giant Gazprom and help it maintain editorial independence.