Vladimir Gusinky was a Russian media tycoon who was well known as the founder of the Media-Most holding company that included Most Bank, the popular Russian NTV channel, newspaper Segodnya and several magazines.
Within weeks of Putin’s inauguration, on 13 June 2000, Gusinsky was arrested on charges of stealing property worth more than $10 million from the state-owned “Russian Video” company.
After a bitter court battle, Gusinsky was forced to relinquish control of his media holdings, and he left the country for exile in Spain. He later claimed that the papers he signed had no legal force he signed them under pressure in return for his release from Butyrka prison and the halt of the criminal case against him. He later said: ‘It is not a secret that if the General Prosecutor’s Office can initiate criminal proceedings so easily, and later halt them, than this proves to be a clear fact of state racketeering’.
The Russian government subsequently charged Gusinsky with money laundering and fraud and demanded his extradition. The Spanish courts, however, refused the request. From Spain, Gusinsky moved to Israel, where he again accumulated significant media holdings.
Former Russian media tycoon became the first and only prisoner whose case was officially recognised by the European Court of Human Rights as politically motivated.