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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Spanish Judge Mulls Giving Gusinsky Bail

MADRID, Spain — Spanish state prosecutors have opposed bail for Vladimir Gusinsky, who is being held in Spain while Russia seeks his extradition on fraud charges, court sources said.

But Judge Baltasar Garzon, the High Court magistrate handling the case, gave the first sign Monday that he was considering letting Gusinsky out of jail to face what is expected to be a lengthy Spanish legal battle over his fate.

Garzon, known worldwide for his unsuccessful attempt to bring former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet to trial in Spain, asked police whether they could guard against Gusinsky’s escape by assigning officers to watch him if he were freed, the court sources said. Police have yet to respond.

Gusinsky, head of the Media-MOST media empire, is wanted on fraud allegations.

He was arrested Dec. 12 at his villa in the south of Spain on an international warrant. Gusinsky’s lawyers contend their client is being singled out for Media-MOST’s criticism of the Kremlin, and the U.S. State Department has said the pursuit of Gusinsky poses a threat to the independence of Russian media.

"He’s just angry that he’s still in jail," defense lawyer Igor Malashenko said in Madrid on Monday. "He’s not suffering anxiety attacks or anything. He’s still in the same jail cell where he has been [since arriving in Madrid]."

Spanish prosecutors Monday filed a motion to block Gusinsky’s release on bail, court sources said.

Judge Garzon last week rejected a defense motion for bail, saying a decision could not be made until Russian authorities sent all the required documents. Those papers arrived at the Spanish Foreign Ministry on Monday, court sources said.

Gusinsky’s lawyers Monday also asked the court to allow Gusinsky a mobile phone in his cell, a privilege denied other prisoners in Spain.

The High Court’s chief prosecutor said last week that he saw nothing that would prevent Gusinsky’s extradition.

Meanwhile, a deal aimed at allowing foreign investors to buy shares in Media-MOST’s NTV television has hit a hitch, but the holding company said Tuesday that talks would go on.

Deutsche Bank and state-controlled creditor Gazprom-Media were to sign a deal Monday allowing Deutsche to start seeking a foreign investor for NTV, but a spokeswoman for Media-MOST said only Media-MOST had signed.

"This is not a tragedy, this is a technical moment in the talks," spokeswoman Yelena Bruni said. "Talks will continue, nothing tragic has happened."

She said Deutsche had apparently not agreed with a clause in the agreement that gave Media-MOST continued voting rights over the NTV shares once they had been transferred to the bank, prior to an investor being found.