Russia should disclose information on Klebnikov murder

New York, July 9, 2010—The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Russian authorities to disclose their progress in the investigation into the unsolved murder of Forbes Russia Editor Paul Klebnikov, left, who was gunned down outside his Moscow office six years ago today.

The case is with the federal Investigative Committee at the Prosecutor General’s Office, which is responsible for conducting criminal probes. Petros Garibyan, a senior investigator, told CPJ in a September 2009 meeting that his agency is cooperating with U.S. investigators in efforts to bring Klebnikov’s killers to justice. However, he would not disclose what concrete steps are being taken to advance the investigation. The Investigative Committee has not reported any progress in the case since.

“We call on Russian investigators to go on the record with progress they have made over the past year in solving the murder of our colleague Paul Klebnikov,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “There has been much hope since last July’s summit between Presidents Medvedev and Obama—during which the Klebnikov case was discussed—that real progress will be made in the investigation. Such progress is sorely needed to rekindle hope that justice is achievable in Russia, where a total of 18 journalists have been murdered with impunity over the last decade.”

The alleged mastermind—Chechen separatist leader Khozh-Akhmed Nukhayev, the subject of Klebnikov’s 2003 book Conversation With a Barbarian—has never been apprehended or prosecuted. Two alleged accomplices were acquitted in May 2006 following a flawed and closed trial. In the weeks following the acquittals, as procedural violations resurfaced, the prosecution appealed and won the right to retry the case, but by then one of the alleged accomplices had disappeared.

On July 2, Klebnikov family members told reporters that they might file a complaint against Russia with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on charges of failing to attain justice. “We have tried everything that we can in terms of using the Russian legal system and we are now seriously discussing taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights because we are simply not confident that we will see justice in Russia,” Michael Klebnikov, Paul’s  brother, told Reuters. “There has been no success and that is appalling, it is damning, and it invites one to suspect that there are serious conflicts of interest directly linked to the tangled web of corrupt politicians, corrupt businessmen, and criminals in Russia,” Klebnikov said.