Russian Media Mogul, Vladimir Gusinsky, Freed

The Russian prosecutor general’s office freed Gusinsky at the request of his lawyers, but only after he signed a pledge not to leave Moscow, the Interfax news agency reported.

Gusinsky owns Media-Most, Russia’s largest independent media conglomerate. His organization has been critical of the Kremlin and its policies, including the war in Chechnya.

Russian authorities say he was suspected of taking part in the theft of $10 million in state funds in a privatization deal.

But some in Russia, including Gusinsky’s lawyers, say his arrest was intended to silence opposition to the government.

“The gist of the charges is that Media-Most itself was created exclusively with the goal of inflicting damage on the state,” said Genri Reznik, a lawyer for Gusinsky, told Reuters. “We are dealing with full-scale political repression.”

The investigator in charge of the case told Russian state television Gusinsky’s arrest was “a common criminal case.”

“I personally made the decision to arrest the suspect Gusinsky on the basis of the materials we had. I would like to officially state that no one has exerted any pressure on me,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also denied the arrest was politically motivated, but said he thought the decision to take Gusinsky into custody was excessive.

Gusinsky’s lawyers said earlier today that officials refused to free him from a Moscow jail and had said their decision would not be reviewed until Monday.