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Russia To Seize Mogul’s Property

July 19, 2000

MOSCOW (AP) _ Authorities investigating embezzlement allegations against Russian media mogul Vladimir Gusinsky compiled an inventory of his belongings Wednesday in preparation to seize his property.

Investigators spent the day taking stock of Gusinsky’s house in Chigasovo, a Moscow suburb. Valery Nikolayev, the chief investigator in the case, said the confiscation could extend to property Gusinsky holds abroad, and said Russia would appeal to Interpol for help.

The household inventory wouldn’t include ``dishes, spoons and forks,″ Nikolayev was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. ``But if we find securities, bank accounts, airplanes, yachts, estates abroad belonging to V. Gusinsky, we’ll arrest them too. That’s the law.″

Gusinsky lawyer Pavel Astakhov called the property confiscation an attempt to ``control Gusinsky’s personal life.″

He told reporters that the seizure would not include Gusinsky’s business holdings. Gusinsky’s company, Media-Most, owns controlling interests in the NTV television network, Ekho Moskvy radio and a number of publishing and satellite television interests.

Prosecutors have charged Gusinsky with cheating the state out of $10 million in a privatization deal in St. Petersburg, the first in a series of cases against top Russian businessmen in recent weeks. He has denied any wrongdoing, saying the case really targets his media outlets, which have been critical of the Kremlin.

Authorities arrested Gusinsky last month and held him for four days in a Moscow jail. He was released on condition he not leave Russia while the investigation continued, and prosecutors have repeatedly denied his requests to travel abroad.

Gusinsky has Israeli and Russian citizenship and extensive media holdings in Israel. He is also registered as a resident of the British colony of Gibraltar, and his family lives in London.

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