Russians urged to act after assassination of journalist

Klebnikov: shot four times

The murder of Forbes magazine journalist Paul Klebnikov in Moscow has been denounced by press freedom watchdogs, who have called for an urgent crackdown on criminals targeting journalists in Russia.

Klebnikov, who was editor of Forbes’ Russian edition, was shot four times as he left work last Friday.

He is one of more than a dozen journalists murdered in Russia since 2000 without the perpetrators being brought to justice. His killing is believed to be linked to his investigative reporting of Russia’s business elite.

Klebnikov gained recognition in 2000 for his biography, Godfather of the Kremlin, which exposed the business deals of tycoon Boris Berezovsky.

The International Federation of Journalists this week urged the Russian authorities to crack down on criminals targeting journalists.

IFJ general secretary Aidan White said: “Democracy in Russia will never survive as long as journalists are being targeted and big business refuses to come out of the shadows.

“This brutal murder shows just how far Russia is from embracing the basic principles of democratic life. Scrutiny of those in power is what journalism is all about. If this cannot be done safely there is no democracy worth speaking of.”

The IFJ said businesses should be made to recognise that democracy requires full transparency and independent journalistic scrutiny.

“This was a targeted assassination by shadowy criminals on behalf of socalled legitimate business interests,” said White.

The IFJ called on the Russian Government to provide more protection for independent media.

The World Association of Newspapers and the World Editors Forum also called on Russian authorities to bring the killers to justice and enable journalists to carry out their duties “without fear of violence”.

According to the IFJ, nearly 90 journalists and media staff have been killed in Russia in the last 10 years, many of them targeted because of their revelations about corruption.

Klebnikov became the first editor of Forbes Russia when the magazine launched in April. He joined Forbes in 1989 and worked his way up to become senior editor, specialising in Russian and Eastern European politics and economics.

Steve Forbes, president and editor-inchief of Forbes, said: “Paul knew Russia well. It was a country he deeply loved.

“He was a superb reporter – courageous, energetic, ever curious. We eagerly anticipated reading his stories.

The information was always fresh, insightful and fascinating. He served his readers well. He exemplified the finest traditions of our profession.

“All of us at Forbes are devastated by what has happened and send our condolences and prayers to his wife and family.”

By Ruth Addicott

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