Klebnikov, 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
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