Beaten Down by the Kremlin, Goussinsky Throws in the Towel

After a decade of leadership in the Russian business elite, Vladimir Goussinsky has called it quits.

In a move announced this week, the once-powerful media tycoon and Jewish leader sold his remaining assets in the Russian media empire he created.

Goussinsky sold his stakes this week in the 23 companies that were part of his Media-MOST empire to Gazprom-Media, a subsidiary of the Russian natural gas monopoly. The sum of the deal was not disclosed, with estimates running from $40 million to $300 million.

Gazprom won control of most of Goussinsky’s companies last year as a result of a politically charged battle widely described as a Kremlin attempt to curb free speech and get rid of one of Putin’s most powerful critics.

Before he was forced into exile by the Kremlin, Goussinsky, who was the founder and first president of the Russian Jewish Congress, was the leading domestic donor to Jewish causes in his country.

He also personally financed a state-of-the-art memorial synagogue in Moscow’s World War II park erected in the late 1990s.

Last year, he contributed only $32,000 to cover a small part of the synagogue’s maintenance, according to sources at the RJC.

This year, Goussinsky’s financial involvement in the Russian Jewish community was “zero,” according to a Jewish official who asked not to be identified.

The war on Russia’s first privately owned media empire — during which he was briefly imprisoned in Russia and in Spain — ended last year with the Kremlin’s seizure of a controlling stake in his companies.

Goussinsky, who has not been back to Russia in the last two years, retains control of his foreign-based media companies.

He was quoted earlier this year as saying he would concentrate on Russian-language broadcasting in North America and Western Europe, serving the large Russian-speaking communities in these regions.

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