Gusinsky out on bail; deport verdict near

Mogul's defenders: Charges politically motivated

MOSCOW — Russian media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky was released on bail by a Spanish court Monday amid hopes that Spain may not comply with Moscow’s requests to extradite him on fraud charges.

Gusinsky had been held in a Madrid prison since March 12 prior to the March 15 extradition hearing at Spain’s National Court of Criminal Justice. He was released on a reported $5.5 million bail and must report daily to police in Cadiz, where he has a home.

Signs that his release might be imminent came with rumors Sunday that the list of those allowed to see him in prison had been widened. One Moscow agency reported that his media rival, Boris Berezovsky, had visited.

Though the Spanish court may announce a verdict within three days, the case is unlikely to stop there. Both sides are expected to launch appeals that could drag on for months.

Gusinsky’s defenders must convince the Spanish authorities that the Russian charges are political and stem from the oppositional stance that his independent television station, NTV, has taken with regard to the Kremlin.

Gusinsky’s is also battling to stave off creditors. A subsidiary of Russia’s natural gas monopoly Gazprom, which owns a 46% stake in NTV, is pressing for a general meeting April 3 that could see Gusinsky-loyal directors thrown off the board.

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