U.S. Senate issues condemnation in Klebnikov killing

New York, July 28, 2006—The U.S. Senate has unanimously approved a resolution condemning the July 2004 murder of Forbes Russia Editor Paul Klebnikov, U.S. Sens. Sam Brownback and Hillary Clinton announced this week. The resolution calls on Russia’s government to aggressively pursue the murder investigation and accept a U.S. offer for assistance, Clinton and Brownback said in a statement.

The resolution, which was introduced by the two lawmakers, comes roughly three months after the Moscow City Court acquitted two ethnic Chechens—Musa Vakhayev and Kazbek Dukuzov—in Klebnikov’s killing on May 5. The jury trial, which was sealed to the public and the media, was repeatedly criticized by the Committee to Protect Journalists for its lack of transparency. Moscow prosecutor Dmitry Shokhin said “serious violations” of criminal procedure led to the acquittals.

In a June 28 letter, CPJ urged U.S. President George W. Bush to bring up concerns about impunity with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. (Read letter.)

At least 12 journalists have been murdered in contract-style killings during Putin’s tenure, CPJ research shows. All of the cases remain unsolved. (See CPJ’s Russia murder list.)

Three more journalists have been murdered in Russia this year; CPJ is investigating the circumstances to determine whether they were targeted for their work. In January, Vagif Kochetkov, Tula correspondent for the Moscow daily Trud, died of head injuries suffered in an assault. In February, Ilya Zimin, a journalist with the television channel NTV, was found beaten to death in his Moscow apartment. On Wednesday, Yevgeny Gerasimenko, a correspondent for the weekly Saratovsky Rasklad, was found smothered in his Saratov apartment. (For more details, see CPJ’s killed list.)

“While we welcome this resolution we remain extremely concerned not only by the failure to win a conviction in the Klebnikov murder but by Russia’s overall record of violence and impunity as highlighted this week by the slaying of our colleague Yevgeny Gerasimenko,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said.