Greeks hold a Russian ‘oligarch’

A former Russian media tycoon, Vladimir Gusinsky, is to appear before a prosecutor today following his arrest at Athens Airport last week on an international warrant. Gusinsky, 51, is wanted by Russia on charges of fraud involving $250 million. It was not clear yesterday how the case would proceed, as it was unclear whether Russia has requested Gusinsky’s extradition. He «will appear (today) before the prosecutor of the Athens court of appeals, and then the council of this court will make a decision on his extradition,» government spokesman Christos Protopappas told the Agence France-Presse. He said Gusinsky’s arrest «was based on an arrest warrant issued by Russia and a Greek-Russian agreement on cooperation in judicial matters.» This appeared to contradict statements by Greek police on Saturday which had indicated that Gusinsky had been arrested on an international arrest warrant issued by Interpol. Protopappas said the case could go to the Supreme Court after the Appeals Court Council. Russia’s ITAR-Tass news agency reported yesterday that Russian authorities have still not received official notification of Gusinsky’s arrest, and cited an Athens airport police official as saying that Russia has not yet submitted a formal request for Gusinsky’s extradition, The Associated Press reported. The Prosecutor General’s Office in Russia refused to comment and officials at the Russian embassy in Athens could not be reached. Reuters quoted a Greek police source saying Greek authorities had been in touch with Russian police and were told the warrant was still effective. Gusinsky’s lawyer says he was detained illegally as the Russian Interpol warrant was not valid, the agency quoted police sources saying. Gusinsky was one of the group of Russian businessmen, known as the «oligarchs,» who made fortunes in the privatizations of the 1990s. But in 2000 he lost his business in a dispute with the government, Russia initially sought him on charges of misrepresenting the assets of his company Media-Most to obtain a $262 million loan, but later added allegations of money laundering. (AFP, AP, Reuters)