Gusinsky, Vladimir Aleksandrovich

Gusinsky, Vladimir Aleksandrovich
(1952– )
   One of the richest men in the world, Gusinsky is a former Russian media tycoon. In the 1990s, his media conglomerate Media-MOST included the NTV television channel, radio, the newspaper Segodnia (Today), and magazines known both for their high professional standards and for the critical stance they sometimes adopted toward the Kremlin. In 2001, Gusinsky lost control of his media empire at the end of what was often depicted as a Kremlin-inspired campaign to destroy him. He holds dual Israeli and Spanish citizenship and resides in Spain.
   Gusinsky was born into a hardscrabble Jewish family in Moscow. He first studied at the Gubkin Institute of Petrochemicals and Natural Gas but never completed his coursework; after service in the Russian army, he finished at a theater school in Moscow and began his career as a theater actor and director in the regional capital of Tula. In the late 1980s, he entered the emerging private sector, first running a women’s clothing business, then specializing in facilitating joint ventures between Soviet and American firms. Unlike many other oligarchs, he created his wealth without acquiring former state-controlled enterprises. In 1989, he established the MOST Bank, which handled accounts of the Moscow city government. Over time, he developed a close relationship with Moscow’s mayor, Yury Luzhkov. A strong supporter of Luzhkov’s presidential ambitions, Gusinsky was suspected of laundering money for the mayor; Luzhkov helped Gusinsky gain control of the television station Channel 4, which he used to criticize Boris Yeltsin’s actions in Chechnya. Fearing a return to Communist control of Russia, Gusinsky backed Yeltsin in the 1996 presidential elections and was awarded control of NTV for his help managing the flagging image of the president.
   After the financial crisis of 1998, Gusinsky borrowed money from Gazprom to keep his media empire afloat. He also resumed his previous anti-Yeltsin attacks. Gusinsky ill-advisedly took a critical stance against Yeltsin’s successor, Vladimir Putin, ridiculing the new president on the satirical puppet show Kukly and criticizing the handling of the Kursk submarine disaster. In 2000, Gazprom began demanding repayment of its loans just as Gusinsky faced fraud charges. After spending three days in jail, Gusinsky signed a deal that kept him out of prison, which stipulated that he agreed to relinquish control of his media empire to Gazprom. The events surrounding Gusinsky’s loss of his media holdings coincided with Putin’s campaign against the Russian oligarchs. In the wake of the crisis, NTV was put under new management, while Segodnia was shuttered. Gusinsky ultimately fled to Spain, where he was granted citizenship. Russia issued an international arrest warrant for Gusinsky; however, after being arrested in the luxury resort of Sotogrande, Spanish authorities released the billionaire, stating he was the victim of “political purges.” He was similarly released after an arrest in Greece in 2003; United States diplomats reportedly intervened with Athens on his behalf. Gusinsky ultimately took up residence in Tel Aviv. In 1996, he was elected president of the Russian Jewish Congress. Today, Gusinsky runs RTVi, a satellite television station targeted at the Russian diaspora in the Commonwealth of Independent States, Israel, North America, and Europe.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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  • Vladimir Gusinsky — Vladimir Aleksandrovich Gusinsky ( ru. Владимир Александрович Гусинский; born 6 October 1952 in Moscow), a Russian media baron, is known as the founder of Media Most holding that included Most Bank, the NTV channel, the newspaper Segodnya and… …   Wikipedia

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