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Russia22 November 2004

A new suspect arrested in Paul Khlebnikov murder investigation

The Moscow prosecutor’s office has arrested a 40-year-old man from Chechnya in the investigation into the 9 July murder of Paul Khlebnikov, editor of the Russian edition of the American Forbes magazine.

The arrested man was Musa Vakhayev of Urus-Martan in Chechnya. The prosecutor’s office, which made the arrest on 18 November, now has ten days to come up with the necessary evidence allowing it to charge the suspect. It gave no further information apart from repeating that it was still viewing the Chechnya connection as its best lead.

The murdered journalist’s brother Peter Khlebnikov announced on the same day that a group of Russian and American journalists had decided to carry out their own independent investigation into the killing.


Murder of Paul Khlebnikov: Moscow police chief withdraws statement

As a wide variety of theories continue to circulate about the murder of Paul Khlebnikov, Vladimir Pronin has withdrawn a statement he made on 28 September that two recently arrested Chechen nationals were suspects. The arrested men are apparently not suspected of murdering the journalist. Of the three weapons seized when they were arrested, none corresponded to the one used in the 9 July killing.

Elsewhere Moscow’s prosecutor-general, who is overseeing the investigation, has expressed his dissatisfaction at the Moscow police chief’s statements. He said Vladimir Pronin had no right give out information about the case, since he was not in charge of the investigation.


Two Chechens arrested as suspects in Russian Forbes editor’s murder

Two Chechens have been arrested as suspects in the 9 July murder of Paul Khlebnikov, the editor of the Russian edition of Forbes magazine, Moscow police chief Vladimir Pronin said today. Pronin said the suspects had "kidnapped another person" prior to Khlebnikov’s death. He also said police had seized three firearms, including the one used to gun down Khlebnikov outside his Moscow office. But he provided no other information about the investigation or the suspected motives for the killing.

From the outset, the police had assumed that the murder was linked to Khlebnikov’s work as a journalist. He had investigated Russian businessmen for Forbes. But he also wrote a book based on interviews with Khozh-Akhmed Nukhayev, a former deputy prime minister of the Chechen separatist government. Published in 2003 and entitled "Conversations with a barbarian," it presented Nukhayev and other Chechen rebels in a negative light. In another book published in 2000, Khlebnikov described Russian businessman Boris Berezovski as a "Kremlin godfather" with links to Chechen organised crime.


Editor of Russian edition of Forbes Magazine killed in Moscow

Russian version

Reporters Without Borders said today it was "shocked" at the murder of American journalist Paul Khlebnikov in a Moscow street on 9 July and called for government action to protect journalists in a country where it said they were "in great danger."

Khlebnikov, 41, editor of the new Russian edition of the US business magazine Forbes, was hit four times by gunmen who attacked him as he left his office. He died on his way to hospital.

"Police think he was probably killed because of his work," said a spokeswoman for the Moscow prosecutor’s office. A car belonging to the killers was found today.

Reporters Without Borders said that since Khlebnikov was an investigative journalist, he may have been killed for that reason. It noted that five journalists had been murdered in Russia last year and that official investigations had not yet discovered why they were killed. It called on the police to do everything possible to quickly arrest Khlebnikov’s murderers.

The journalist, who founded the Russian edition of the magazine in April, had published a list of the richest people in Russia. The publisher of the Russian edition, Leonid Bershidsky, told Reuters news agency that after 17 years of investigative journalism, "he probably had plenty of enemies."

Khlebnikov had written about Russian billionaire businessman Boris Berezovsky in 1996 and wrote a book about him in 2000 called "Godfather of the Kremlin" which said he had ties with the Chechen mafia and had smuggled hundreds of millions of dollars out of the country.

Berezovsky told journalists after the murder that Khlebnikov had reported things inaccurately, which had probably strongly displeased someone.

Russian version

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