July 9, 2004, in Moscow, RussiaKlebnikov, editor of Forbes Russia and an investigative reporter, was gunned down as he left his Moscow office at about 10 p.m. Authorities in Moscow described the case as a contract murder and said that he may have been killed because of his work. Klebnikov, 41, a U.S. journalist of Russian descent, was shot at least nine times from a passing car.
Klebnikov was the 11th journalist in Russia to be killed in a contract-style murder in the four years after President Vladimir Putin came to power, according to CPJ research. No one had been brought to justice in any of the cases.
A special crimes unit is investigating Klebnikov's murder, Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov said.
On September 28, Moscow police said they arrested two Chechen men suspected in the murder. But the suspects denied involvement, and police backed off their initial assertion. Less than two months later, on November 18, Moscow police and the Belarusian security service arrested three other Chechens considered suspects in the murder. Authorities provided only limited information about the evidence they used to link the new suspects to the crime.
Some analysts reacted to the arrests with skepticism. After the September arrests were reported, Oleg Panfilov, director of the Moscow-based press freedom group Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, told an interviewer that authorities were pursuing a "farfetched Chechen trail."
Forbes launched its Russian-language edition in April 2004, attracting significant attention a month later when it published a list of Russia's wealthiest people. The magazine reported that Moscow had 33 billionaires, more than any other city in the world.
Klebnikov had written a number of books and articles that angered his subjects. His investigations often focused on the synergy of Russian business and organized crime, but he also addressed the conflict in Chechnya and the ethnic and political tensions there. In November, CPJ posthumously honored Klebnikov with one its International Press Freedom Awards.
Beats Covered: Business, Corruption, Crime
Local or Foreign: Foreign
Type of Death: Murder
Suspected Source of Fire: Criminal Group
Taken Captive: No
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- Anniversaries of Russian journalist murders pile up, July 12, 2013
- Attacks on the Press: A Frustrating Pursuit for Justice, February 14, 2013
- Attacks on the Press in 2011: Impunity Still the Norm in Russia, February 21, 2012
- Getting Away With Murder, June 1, 2011