Posted Monday, December 18, 2000

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[Website comment: The reporting by Ha'aretz from the Middle East consistently lives up to the highest standards of journalism.]


Jerusalem, Monday, December 18, 2000

Burg draws fire for urging world lawmakers to help free Russian Jewish media baron


Ha'aretz Service -- In a step said to have sparked the ire of Israeli officials, Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg has sent a strongly-worded letter to parliamentarians abroad, urging them to work to free jailed Russian Jewish media baron Vladimir Gusinsky, Army Radio reported Monday.

Gusinsky, a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is in custody in Spain awaiting extradition to Russia. Gusinsky maintains that Russian authorities have manipulated the judicial system to harass him into silence.

"When a political campaign is waged against a Jew like Gusinsky, I begin to worry," Burg wrote. "I worry about all the Jews in Russia, and hope that this is not the beginning of the end of democracy there."

Israeli officials criticized Burg for having done potential harm to Russian-Israeli diplomatic relations, the radio said.

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