The Russian authorities have described Mr. Klebnikov’s death as a contract killing, and have said it appeared connected to his journalism. Some of those who were sources for his articles said they knew of no work that would have made him a target.
Let’s see: There’s the list of Russia’s 100 richest people, which, according to Boris Berezovky “To publish this list is like sending a letter to the prosecutor’s office”. There’s Mr. Klebnikov’s second book, Conversation With a Barbarian, which dealt with organized crime in Russia’s continuing war in Chechnya. The book, according to The Economist, “in which he made a passionate appeal to Europeans to defend Christian civilisation against Islamic extremism, can have earned him no friends in Chechnya”. Let’s not forget last year’s Forbes cover article on Iran’s Millionaire Mullahs: A looming nuclear threat to the rest of the world, Iran is robbing its own people of prosperity. But the men at the top are getting extremely rich”. Additonally, the obituary at The Economist points out that
NTV, the last national television station to show any independence of spirit, has in effect been taken over by the state. Its programme “Freedom of Speech”, the only balanced political talk-show on Russian television, was given its final airing a few hours before Mr Klebnikov’s killing. Neither has Russia become safer for journalists: 15 have now been killed since 2000. No one has been brought to book for any of their murders.
As The Economist puts it, “In short, the array of possible suspects in Mr Klebnikov’s murder is long”.
A Chechen rebel leader ordered the killing of the editor of the Russian edition of US business magazine Forbes, Russia’s prosecutor general’s office said, as cited by Interfax.
The prosecutor general’s office named Chechen resident Khozh-Akhmed Nukhayev — a key figure in Chechnya’s underground militant government — as the man who ordered the killing of American journalist Paul Klebnikov in July, 2004.
Nukhayev ‘offered members of a criminal group a reward for the killing of
P Klebnikov’, in retaliation for negative comments in Klebnikov’s writings about the Chechen leader, Interfax quoted a prosecutor’s office source as saying.
Oleg Panfilov, the director of the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, doubts that claim
Mr. Klebnikov’s crusading reporting was believed to have disquieted many in Russia, making the list of those with motives a long one.
“The Chechen trace was one of the leading versions literally in the first hours after his death,” Mr. Panfilov said in a telephone interview. “I immediately had doubts because all crimes are always blamed on Chechens, and I think what happened today is a continuation of what happened when Paul was killed.”
However, there were other theories. Russian Forbes had made a list of the 100 richest people in Russia, and some businessmen put in the list could have been upset at the publicity. Another suspect was Russian fugitive tycoon Boris Berezovsky also due to a book Klebnikov wrote about him. Kalinin added that Klebnikov “was afraid and hid himself from” Berezovsky after having written that book, The history of Russia’s Plundering.
“Berezovsky was furious and said he would not let it lie. And Pavel, who knew his methods, understood those were not empty words.”
Also posted at Blogger News Network.