In the first high-profile murder of a Western journalist in Russia, Paul
Klebnikov, the American editor of the new Russian edition of Forbes magazine
who for years has relentlessly investigated the dealings of Russia's rich
and powerful, was shot dead after leaving work Friday evening.
Vladimir Filonov / MT
and colleagues mourning Klebnikov at St. Catherine the Great Martyr
Church on Sunday. Another service will be held Wednesday at Christ
the Savior Cathedral.
Klebnikov, 41, was shot four times from a passing car about 100 meters
from Forbes' editorial offices on Ulitsa Dokukina in northern Moscow at
about 10 p.m.
He was still conscious when Alexander Gordeyev, the editor of the Russian
edition of Newsweek, whose offices are in the same building, ran out into
the street. Gordeyev said Klebnikov told him he did not recognize the
man who shot him and did not know who might have ordered the attack. Klebnikov
died shortly after arriving at City Hospital No. 20, Gordeyev said.
It was unclear Sunday whether Klebnikov had received any threats, and
his lifestyle suggested he did not feel he was in any danger.
Judging by his letter from the editor in the debut issue of Forbes Russia
in April, Klebnikov seemed to believe that Russia had changed. He wrote
that the readiness of the Russian market for such a publication was "one
sign that Russian business has reached a new, more civilized stage of
Investigators as well as Klebnikov's colleagues and friends said they
had little doubt the murder was directly related to his journalistic work.
"Paul was a very independent journalist, was very professional
and always spoke the truth. And there is no question that he died for
speaking the truth," Boris Jordan, former general director of NTV
television and a personal friend of Klebnikov's, said after a memorial
service Sunday at St. Catherine the Great Martyr Church in central Moscow.
Colleagues and friends, however, were not ready to speculate on whether
the murder was more likely to be related to investigations by Forbes Russia
-- which in May published a list of Russia's 100 richest people, some
of whom were unhappy about the publicity, given the current anti-oligarch
mood -- or to Klebnikov's other projects, which have delved into the darker
side of Russia's political and business elite.
One such investigation led to an article in Forbes in 1996 on Boris
Berezovsky, who at the time was a Kremlin insider. The article called
Berezovsky a "powerful gangland boss" and accused him of ordering
the 1995 murder of television journalist Vladislav Listyev. Berezovsky
said the article consisted of a "series of lies" and sued the
magazine in Britain.
Klebnikov, however, persisted and followed up the article with a book
titled "Godfather of the Kremlin: Boris Berezovsky and the Looting
Berezovsky withdrew the libel suit last year after Forbes acknowledged
that there was no evidence that he had ordered the murder of Listyev or
In a telephone interview over the weekend, Berezovsky said Klebnikov
led a dangerous life.
"Somebody clearly did not like the way he operated and decided
to sort it out with him, Russian-style, not through the English courts
like I did," Berezovsky said.
"Klebnikov was like a bull in a china shop. ... All over the world
rich people like to keep a low profile," he said. But in Russia,
he said, the situation was even more extreme. "If you publish a list
of the country's richest people, it's like informing on them to the prosecutors.
Standards are different."
Berezovsky said Klebnikov may also have stepped on some toes in the
An investigative piece published in Forbes Russia in April looked into
connections between Surgutneftegaz and the firm Kinex, which is one of
the traders for the oil major's exports. Kinex, according to Hermitage
Capital Management, for years has been benefiting from lucrative contracts
to export Surgut oil. One of Kinex's alleged beneficiaries, Gennady Timchenko,
was earlier this year labeled as the manager of President Vladimir Putin's
personal fortune by unsuccessful presidential candidate Ivan Rybkin, which
is likely to have prompted Forbes' investigation. Rybkin's presidential
run was funded by Berezovsky.
"Klebnikov touched on the most sensitive issues. He raised questions
about ... those that are sitting at the top of Putin's business. Putin
may not have liked this as it touched on his closest circle," Berezovsky
According to friends and colleagues, Klebnikov was also nurturing a
sequel to the book about Berezovsky. Due to Klebnikov's reluctance to
share much about his work in progress, it was difficult to establish Sunday
whether he had begun writing it, or whether it was to be focused on Berezovsky
or any other members of Russia's political and financial elite.
Irina Silayeva, general director of Axel Springer Russia, which publishes
the Russian edition of Forbes, said Klebnikov's co-workers did not notice
any signs that his life was in danger as a result of his work as editor
of the magazine.
"There was no basis for any attack based on what was printed,"
she said. "It is very difficult to comment. This came as a complete
shock to me. Paul was a very talented person, but if he was working on
something, he would not share that he was doing so with anyone."
Klebnikov's death will not affect the future of the magazine, which
will continue to be published, Silayeva said.
Forbes Russia publisher Leonid Bershidsky agreed. "I would not
like for the magazine to close. The news should continue. Paul would have
wanted this," he said.
Klebnikov's murder sent shivers through the Moscow journalistic community.
It can only be matched by the murders of American hotelier Paul Tatum
in 1996, journalist Dmitry Kholodov in 1994 and Listyev in 1995, none
of which has been solved.
"Russia is consistently one of the world's most dangerous places
to be a journalist and we call on the Russian authorities to aggressively
investigate and prosecute this case," Ann Cooper, executive director
of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said in a statement.
At least 14 journalists have been killed in Russia in connection with
their work since 2000, and none of their killers has been brought to justice,
"This shameful record of impunity is one of the reasons these murders
continue to happen," Cooper said. "It sends a chilling message
to Russian journalists and a terrible message to the rest of the world
about the Kremlin's indifference to press freedom."
Klebnikov did not appear to be concerned about safety, his friends and
colleagues said. Since moving to Moscow earlier this year, he had used
public transportation to get around. His wife and three children visited
him as recently as last week, which suggests he was not particularly worried,
No date has been set for the funeral, which is expected to take place
in New York, where Klebnikov, a descendant of emigres who fled Russia
after the 1917 Revolution, was born and raised. Another memorial service
is to be held in Moscow at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the lower church of the
Christ the Savior Cathedral.
Klebnikov is survived by his wife, Musa; sons Alexander, 12, and Grigory,
7; daughter Sophia, 4; and two brothers, Peter and Michael.
Staff Writer Catherine Belton contributed to this report.
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