Forbes' Paul Klebnikov: A Victim of Political Terrorism?

 Paul Klebnikov, editor of Forbes Russia, was killed in Moscow on Friday night.

Klebnikov came to Russia full of enthusiasm and optimism. He came to a Russia that he believed no longer had to resort to high-profile contract killings. Klebnikov had come to believe that lawyers and the law itself was enough protection when writing openly and professionally about Russian business. The people who probably killed Klebnikov were the people who he investigated and publicly despised - corrupt officials and the darker side of the business world.  Not realizing it, he just may have walked into the middle of the most recent stage of the drama of "who owns Russia."

Will we ever know who silenced the brilliance of Paul Klebnikov? Given the authorities' poor record with solving professional hits, few in Moscow expect to learn the truth behind Klebnikov's murder -- let alone see the culprits convicted in an open court. However, this time around, Putin has a strong interest in learning who is willing to kill an international media professional befriending him and his agenda. 

Russia's print journalism has suffered a terrible loss with the passage of Paul Klebnikov. Russia itself is poorer as well. Klebnikov's faith that a new Russia is in the making has been dealt a severe setback. Ustinov shouldn't be heading this investigation - Putin should be the lead investigator; he was probably the intended target last Friday.


Peter Lavelle is an independent Moscow-based analyst and the author of the electronic newsletter on Russia "Untimely Thoughts" United Press International published an earlier and shorter version of this article.