Case No. 70276/01

Judgment Date: 19/05/2004

The applicant was the former Chairman of the Board of and majority shareholder in Media Most, a private Russian media holding company. In 2000 Media Most was involved in a bitter dispute with Gazprom, a natural gas monopoly controlled by the State, over Media Most’s debts to Gazprom. After Gazprom had discontinued negotiations on the debts, the applicant was summoned to attend the Prosecutor’s office in June 2000 to be questioned as a witness in relation to an unrelated criminal case. Upon arrival at the Prosecutor’s office, the applicant was arrested and imprisoned in the Butyrka prison and detained there for three days. In the record of the interview prosecutors noted that the applicant had been awarded the Friendship of the Peoples Order, which qualified him for an amnesty passed just a few weeks earlier in May 2000. During the applicant’s imprisonment, the Media Minister offered to obtain his release and the dismissal of the criminal charges if he would sell his shares in Media Most to Gazprom, at a price to be determined by Gazprom. The applicant signed an agreement with Gazprom under which all criminal charges would be dropped in return for the applicant’s surrender of control of his company. The agreement was endorsed by the signature of the Media Minister, the criminal prosecution was subsequently terminated and the applicant was allowed to leave the country. The applicant immediately left the country for Spain, after which Media Most refused to honour the agreement, claiming that it had been entered into under duress. Shortly thereafter new criminal charges were brought against the applicant and his extradition was sought from Spain, as a result of which he was placed under house arrest. In April 2001 the Spanish authorities refused the extradition request on the basis that it was politically motivated.

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