Russia may not want Gusinsky

A Russian former media baron arrested at the Eleftherios Venizelos Airport last week on an international warrant may escape extradition to Russia, government sources in Athens implied yesterday, noting that Moscow has not shown any great interest in the man. A senior Public Order Ministry source told Kathimerini that Moscow appears unwilling to seek Vladimir Gusinsky’s extradition after all, despite yesterday’s announcement by Russian prosecutors that they have started preparing the formal request. Gusinsky, 51, was ordered detained in Korydallos Prison on Monday pending processing of an extradition request expected from Moscow. He is wanted by the Russians on $ 250-million fraud charges. Gusinsky – who also holds an Israeli passport and is a senior figure in the World Jewish Congress – was arrested at Athens airport on Thursday after flying in from Tel Aviv. He could prove a considerable embarrassment to Athens, which is already under pressure from the US and Israel not to extradite Gusinsky. The businessman claims the charges are politically motivated, as he once headed one of Russia’s most powerful independent media empires and angered senior Kremlin officials through its coverage of the war in Chechnya. «There have been contacts on a diplomatic level between Greek, US and Israeli officials, in which the latter expressed their view that Gusinsky should not be extradited,» a senior Greek diplomat was quoted as saying yesterday by Agence France-Presse. Government spokesman Christos Protopappas said there is «great international interest in the matter.» «Greece’s independent justice system has taken over the case, and will have the final word,» he added.