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Profile: Vladimir Gusinsky

Vladimir Gusinsky
Vladimir Gusinsky has been likened to Western media moguls such as Rupert Murdoch  

* Founder of NTV

*Though commonly dubbed a "media magnate", "oligarch" and "tycoon", Gusinsky's early career featured less glamorous stints as a taxi driver and theatre director

*Built his business empire on shoals of Soviet collapse, launching the national newspaper, Segodnya, in February 1993, with financial backing from his Media MOST Bank, where he held titles of chairman and CEO Europe
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*Raised his media profile in October 1993 when NTV Television Company began broadcasting on a local St. Petersburg Channel, with funding provided by Most Bank

*Founding of a newspaper and TV company was seen as milestone in evolution of a free Russian press after years of party-line propaganda

*Relinquished positions at MOST Group and MOST Bank in 1997 to head up a new holding company, Media MOST. Group assets included newspapers, magazines, and radio and television stations.

*Arrested in Spain in June 2000 for allegedly embezzling millions in Russian government property

*Defenders see Gusinsky as victim of a politically motivated crackdown by Kremlin figures resentful of the NTV network's probes of government corruption, the role of the federal security services and the war in Chechnya

*Critics counter Gusinsky is invoking the battle for a "free" press as a shield against a legitimate inquiry into alleged financial improprieties as head of Media MOST

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