Ivan Zassoursky on Thu, 15 Jun 2000 17:34:42 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> bespredel


The owner of Most-Media holding Vladimir Gusinsky was arrested on June 
13 by the Russian authorities and charged with fraud. He is currently in 
prison under the article 90 - which means he can stay there for 10 days 
before he is accused. Although there are some rumours, oficially he has 
not been approached with any accusations.

Mr. Gusinsky controls two TV-networks, a satellite network, a newspaper 
and a number of magazines (including a TV-Guide and a joint venture with 
Newsweek). During the last elections he supported the rivalling party of 
power (represented by the Moscow city head Youry Luzhkov) that scored 
badly. His media are also the strongest critics of the ongoing war in 

The most popular of his terrestrial TV networks (NTV) is not ideal, but 
ok., pretty fair and accurate, especially in comparison with the rivals. 
When we did campaign on TV boicott during the elections (see 
www.osvod.org/english), we considered it the only one that could be 

The arrest of mr. Gusinsky, the Russian clone of Rupert Murdoch, is best 
understood if we try to imagine a Murdoch's arrest in Britain. If you 
name the reasons why Murdoch cannot be arrested even if his media oppose 
a rival party and a little war outside the country - you understand what 
it is like when he can get arrested. In Russian it would be called 
BESPREDEL (no limits).

The worst thing is that this is a global trend - indeed, probably the 
next stage of transformation, that started with Kosovo war, the Second 
Chechen war, the Haider case - and will drag along for some time. It is 
a backslash against the nineties, and against freedom in general, 
world-wide. It is a revenge of forgotten institutions like state, of 
forgotten but crusial national identity.

Times are changing and things are getting worse. The worst part of this 
bespredel is that it is happening world-wide, but no state or restored 
national identity can produce a positive effect. Fuelled by the 
political spectacle, the political agents are taking a challenge to 
control the situation that is out of their reach.Yet, if it indeed is a 
global wave, it can produce effects on the global scale.

So far the reaction of the business comunity and journalist comunity was 
mixed, although mostly benefitial for Gusinsky. Everybody says - if he 
is gulty, let him stand a trial, but there is no sence in locking him up 
- he's not going to run away. It is not known yet, what the vox populy 
says. If the people of Russia are delighted to see the oligarch and the 
evil Jew vanish, it will be most tempting for Putin to get rid of the 
political elite as unnesessary intermediaries between him and the 
people. In this case bespredel is likely to continue.

This is quite possible in fact, especially because it does not 
contrafict the current policies of mr. Putin. Distrustful of the 
government and rather inexperienced with this tremendous administrative 
unit, he is trying to build a parallel power system based on the former 
KGB people and police. The most visible signs of this are the 
administrative reform, which so far means giving regional policy to the 
ex-KGB generals, and a number plate reform. Now the police, FSB and 
other police units have blue number plates on their cars. Everybody else 
has white (diplomats used red and blue - but that was a tradition from 
the Soviet times). It looks like Ivan Grozny and Joseph Stalin policy - 
when he created "oprichina" (basically, a special force - NKVD in 
Stalin's case) which was in a way superior to any other form of 
government, because it controlled the administration, but itself was 
immune from any kind of control.

What is important in Gusinsky case, if you will follow the headlines, is 
the fact that opposite to the state, Gusinsky is supported mostly by 
transnational actors - the Jewish Congress, the global media, the US 
Senate and the state of Israel. While Putin is trying to use him as a 
scapegoat in his fresh nation state project. Interesting - what this 
might lead to.

i z


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