Gusinsky, Vladimir Alexandrovich

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GUSINSKY, VLADIMIR ALEXANDROVICH

GUSINSKY, VLADIMIR ALEXANDROVICH (1952– ), Russian businessman and Jewish communal figure. Gusinsky's grandfather was a victim of Stalinist terror (executed in 1937) and his grandmother spent nine years in Stalinist camps. Gusinsky graduated from the Gubkin Institute of the Oil and Gas Industry and the A. Lunacharsky State Institute of Theatrical Art. He then worked as a theater director in Tula and other cities. In the early 1980s he moved to Moscow, where he founded his first company in 1986. In 1988 Gusinsky created the Infax consulting firm, specializing in legal and financial counseling as well as providing political analysis to mostly foreign clients. In 1989 Infax and the Arnold and Potter law firm became partners, starting up the Most Bank in 1989 and the Most Group (Gruppa Most) holding company in 1992. In 1994 Gusinsky became vice president of the Russian Bank Association and in 1995 a member of the presidium of the Coordinating Council of the All-Russian Business Roundtable Union.

Gusinsky took an active part in the revival of Jewish communal life in post-Communist Russia. In January 1996 he was elected president of Russia's Jewish Congress (see *Russia) and in 2000 he became vice president of the World Jewish Congress for Eastern Europe and Russia.

In 1997 Gusinsky resigned as president of the Most Bank and became head of Media Most, embracing several tv companies (including ntv, the country's first privately owned station), the Segodnia newspaper, and some magazines. The media controlled by Gusinsky took an opposition stand during Putin's election campaign, vigorously criticizing his policy in the Chechnya conflict and his authoritarian tendencies. Gusinsky was promptly accused of economic crimes and in June 2000 was arrested, but he was released within a month and left for Spain. There he was placed under house arrest after the Russians requested his extradition, but was released in February 2001. Gusinsky resigned from the presidency of Russia´s Jewish Congress and sold his shares in ntv to foreign investors (including Ted Turner). In August 2003, again accused of laundering money by the Russians, Gusinsky was arrested at Athens airport, but was released after a court hearing. The prolonged legal embroilments of the former media tycoon are typical of the misadventures of Russia's new "oligarchs."

[Naftali Prat (2nd ed.)]