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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Prosecutors Eye Gusinsky's Property

Russian prosecutors intend to seize the foreign property of jailed media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky as part of a case to extradite him from Spain on fraud charges, a spokesman for the Prosecutor General said Friday.

Gusinsky was arrested in his luxury villa in southern Spain in the early hours of Tuesday in response to a Russian request to extradite him on fraud charges. His villa in Sotogrande in Spain is one of several foreign residences.

The spokesman said prosecutors were preparing a request to take possession of Gusinsky's foreign holdings.

Pavel Barkovsky, the senior investigator for Russia's general prosecutor, was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying the European convention on extradition allowed not only for extradition but also the seizure of the suspect's property.

Barkovsky also said all documents relating to Russia's extradition request had been prepared and sent to the Spanish authorities. "All necessary documents were ready by Nov. 13 and have already been sent (to Spain)."

Gusinsky's Media-Most company had issued a statement on Thursday accusing Russian prosecutors of dragging their feet in sending Madrid details of the case in order to prolong the businessman's detention.

It also said the Spanish High Court had turned down a request by Gusinsky's lawyers to release their client, and a court source said any such request was likely to be rejected until the relevant papers arrived from Moscow.

Russia has 40 days to send Spain documentation to back its extradition request. The documents then need to be translated and checked by the High Court before the request goes to ministers for approval.

Gusinsky created independent media outlets in Russia and championed media and democratic freedom during the chaos of the country's post-Communist years.

His media have been fiercely critical of the Kremlin and a court source has reported that he told the Madrid court he was a victim of political persecution.

But the chief prosecutor of Spain's High Court was quoted in a newspaper on Thursday as saying he saw nothing that would prevent the extradition of Gusinsky to his home country.

The Spanish High Court is not due to give its opinion on the case until early next year. A ruling in favour of extradition would have to be backed by an official High Court report and approved by the Spanish government.