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DATE=7/27/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA - GUSINSKY (L) NUMBER=2-264846 BYLINE=PETER HEINLEIN DATELINE=MOSCOW CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Russian police have reportedly dropped fraud charges against Vladimir Gusinsky, head of the country's largest privately-owned media empire. VOA Moscow correspondent Peter Heinlein reports the charges had provoked international outrage and fears of a crackdown on independent media. TEXT: Prosecutors have closed the criminal case against Russian media baron and fierce Kremlin critic Vladimir Gusinsky for lack of evidence. The announcement was made by a spokesman for Mr. Gusinsky's Media-Most holding company, which owns Russia's only independent national television network, along with newspapers, magazines and a radio station. The spokesman says the 47-year old businessman flew to Spain Wednesday, shortly after being informed that an order prohibiting him from travelling abroad had been lifted. Mr. Gusinsky was jailed for three days in June, charged with cheating the government out of 10-million dollars in the purchase of a television station in Russia's second city, St. Petersburg. During the investigation, police repeatedly called Mr. Gusinsky in for questioning, and several times seized documents from Media-Most's offices. The case provoked international outrage, and prompted fears that President Vladimir Putin had authorized a general crackdown on independent media. President Clinton, during a recent visit to Moscow, appeared on a call-in show on a Gusinsky-owned radio station in a symbolic show of support for press freedom. Others saw the charges against Mr. Gusinsky as a sign of a Kremlin offensive against Russia's so-called "oligarchs" - a group of businessmen who acquired vast wealth in the 1990s through privatization deals that many charged were rigged in their favor. President Putin has scheduled a Kremlin meeting Friday with many of the country's leading business executives. But Mr. Gusinsky was notably left off the invitation list, along with another controversial "oligarch", Boris Berezovsky. Kremlin officials say the meeting was called to discuss rising tensions between President Putin and the business community. Several business leaders have charged that they are being targeted by law enforcement agencies in a Kremlin-inspired crackdown on those who became wealthy in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union. (Signed) NEB/PFH/GE/PLM 27-Jul-2000 05:33 AM EDT (27-Jul-2000 0933 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .