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|Print version. Published on site Rusnet.NL 11 December 2003
Vladimir Gusinsky, multimillionaire and ex-media tycoon, ex-owner of Russia's MOST bank and NTV television station. A central figure in Russia's fledgling experience with independent media, businessman Vladimir Gusinsky now finds himself a legal target of Kremlin leaders who he accuses of trying to silence critical journalists. He is being sought on an international warrant, accused of money laundering, but has so far resisted efforts to force his return to Russia.
Born in 1952, Mr Gusinsky has probably one of the most unique backgrounds. He attended not only the Gubkin Institute of Petrochemicals and Natural Gas but also became a theatrical producer in the provinces. In another incarnation, after two-year term in the army he returned to Moscow and drove a cab on the side.
His theatrical work, which included a stint at the University of Virginia, helped him make some important connections. In particular he helped to do some work for Ted Turner and his Goodwill Games as well as the International Youth Festival in 1986.
Two years later in 1988 in the wake of Gorbachev's authorisation of cooperatives, Gusinsky formed Most, a consulting firm.
Gusinsky's cooperative bridged out in several directions. He moved into renovation and construction especially for apartment and office rentals for foreigners. His construction work also brought him into contact with the vice mayor in charge of construction, Yuri Luzhkov. When Luzhkov subsequently became mayor, he assigned prime properties to Gusinsky and also designated Most Bank, the new banking affiliate of Most Group, as one the main depositories for Moscow municipal funds.
Most Bank thus prospered a interest free basis to earn speculative profits on foreign exchange and also use funds for the purchase of federal state securities earning from 150 to 200 percent. By 1994 it was one of the country's largest banks. Ultimately, Luzhkov ended Most's controversial special relationship with Moscow.
Mr Gusinsky's recent ventures included radio and TV network ECHO and Russia's first private TV station NTV, which he had founded in 1992, newspaper Segodnya and several magazines.
In 2002 Mr Gusinsky sold his last media assets. Possessing both Russian and Israeli nationality, he lives at the moment discreetly abroad.