July 11, 2004 by

Paul Klebnikov


Categories: Media, Writers/Editors

pklebnikov.jpgPaul Klebnikov, an American journalist who launched the Russian edition of Forbes magazine, was murdered in a drive-by shooting on July 9. He was 41.
Klebnikov was standing outside his Moscow office when a car carrying at least two assailants opened fire. Shot four times, he died at the hospital. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, more than a dozen members of the media have been slain in Russia since 2000; none of the killers have been brought to justice.
The son of Russian immigrants, Klebnikov graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and the London School of Economics. He became a hard-hitting journalist who was unafraid to investigate the relationships between politics, religion and crime. Fluent in French and Russian, Klebnikov joined the American edition of Forbes in 1989, and worked his way up to a senior editor position.
Over the course of his career, the New York native made many enemies, including Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky. In 1996, Klebnikov published a profile of Berezovsky in Forbes, linking him to the murder of a Russian media mogul. Berezovsky sued Forbes for libel, but withdrew the complaint in 2003 after the magazine printed a correction.
Klebnikov also published “Godfather of the Kremlin: Boris Berezovsky and the Looting of Russia,” a book that described how the Russia economy was criminalized by Berezovsky and other tycoons involved with the Russian mob. Although the Russian government has charged Berezovsky with fraud, he was granted political asylum in Great Britain.
Klebnikov launched a Russian edition of Forbes in April. A month later, the magazine attracted attention for publishing a list of the country’s wealthiest people. Although the Forbes 400 is published each year without incident in the U.S., the publication of “The Golden Hundred of the Richest Businessmen of Russia” caused a stir overseas.
“Paul was a superb reporter — courageous, energetic, ever-curious. I eagerly anticipated reading his stories. The information was always fresh, insightful, fascinating. He exemplified the finest traditions of our profession and served his readers well,” stated Steve Forbes, the publication’s president and editor-in-chief.
[Update, March 1, 2005: Russian prosecutors have charged Muslim Ibragimov, a Chechen also known as Kazbek Dukuzov, with Klebnikov’s murder.]
[Update, May 25, 2006: Two suspected Chechen hit men, Kazbek Dukuzov and Musa Vakhaev, were acquitted of Klebnikov’s murder last week. Jury tampering is suspected, and the case has been appealed to the Russian Supreme Court.]

4 Responses to Paul Klebnikov

  1. barry humphreys

    In reading Paul’s humane work, I felt I got to know knew him a bit. I was saddened to read of this terrible act.

  2. Ward Schwoob

    As a young man I was friends with Paul and his family. We have lost contact over the years till I saw this blog. In my memories I was always impressed with the sense of family and the pride of their heritage expressed by the Klebnikov family. I followed Paul’s career and achievements through the internet with admiration. He was an individual who never was afaid to twist the tail of the tiger when exposing injustice. I hope his death will not go unnoticed and inspire others to continue to carry the torch. My sympathies to his family and friends.

  3. Veronica Ruby

    I knew Paul Klebnikov briefly during his undergraduate studies at U.C. Berkeley. I still remember him, in part because he inspired me to pursue my own education. I also remember that Paul wanted to become a writer, as did so many young people I knew. However, he not only accomplished this goal, he excelled in his field and wrote about highly important matters, even at grave risk to himself. May his family and friends be comforted. And, as traditionally expressed by Russian Orthodox Christians, may his Memory Be Eternal.

  4. Craig Moore

    My wife is from Volgograd. Before she came to the US she had me get her a copy of “Godfather Of The Kremlin” in English because she didn’t believe it was possible for a Russian edition to be uncensored or altered in some way. I read it too, and I was appalled.
    We have tried and tried to locate an English language copy of Paul Klebnikov’s “Talks To Barbarians”. Can anyone out there help us find a place to buy a copy?

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