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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Media Tycoon Warns of Red-Brown Revival

Vladimir Gusinsky, head of a group of banking and commercial firms, is poised to become Russia's first media tycoon, building up stakes in press, radio and television in a venture planned for long-term profit.


But the director of Most Group, already the biggest shareholder in the liberal newspaper Segodnya and the new independent NTV television station, fears his work may come to nothing if communists and extreme nationalists come to power.


"Now there is a very big danger of big enterprises closing and millions of dissatisfied people taking to the streets," he said in his luxurious office in a modern building which Most Group shares with the new Russian parliament.


"This creates a huge social base for the Reds and national patriots and this is dangerous for everyone inside, and outside, the country."


Gusinsky, whose Most Bank is one of Russia's biggest new commercial banks, blames the government and the West for Russia's current plight. He says the government has done little to restructure heavy industry while the West is fueling nationalism in Russia by the high-handed way in which it provides aid.


"Today the West is giving birth to nationalism here," Gusinsky said. "The aid given should not give rise to a feeling of national humiliation. Russia is a proud country."


Like many of the "new Russians" who have made money as communism collapsed, Gusinsky has his own recipe for Russia's economic and political woes.


"It is impossible to introduce at a single stroke purely economic methods in a country which did not have any economic methods for 73 years," he said.


Meanwhile, Gusinsky said, his highly diversified company was pushing forward with business and seeking to secure the continuation of market reforms.


Most Group contributed to the election campaigns of all four pro-reform groupings in December's parliamentary elections. Now it is waging a campaign to set up a Western-style media empire, for both financial and political reasons.


The Segodnya newspaper, set up last year, has quickly become required reading for Russia's political and economic elite. NTV has its own television channel and its popularity is growing.


Gusinsky said the media projects were essential to promote freedom of the press, vital for a democratic society and something which could help guarantee a favorable business climate.


"Openness of information is the only way to prevent the arrival of those guys in leather jackets or brown shirts," he said, referring to old Bolsheviks and fascists. "We are investing money to secure such openness and this is our way of defending ourselves."