In an apparent breakthrough, Russian prosecutors claimed last month that the killing — the first of a western journalist in the country — had been ordered by Khozh-Akhmed Nukhayev, a fugitive Chechen warlord whom Klebnikov had interviewed for a book published in 2003.The article notes that
Klebnikov’s family and friends are sceptical, however, and more than a dozen reporters, including representatives of Vanity Fair, the glossy US magazine, 60 Minutes, the flagship CBS TV programme, and Forbes, the business magazine where Klebnikov worked, have joined forces to try to find the truth.
The initiative — named Project Klebnikov — is aimed not only at uncovering fresh lines of inquiry into the killing, but also at continuing some of the reporter’s own investigative work.
“I felt that something needed to be done for Paul, for journalism and for Russia,” said Richard Behar, a friend of Klebnikov who has worked for Forbes, as well as for Time and Fortune magazines. “Paul was working on a number of sensitive projects and I want us to take up from where he left off."
Far from congratulating the Russians on solving the murder, American authorities have urged them to continue their inquiries. Critics suspect that the investigators found it more convenient to blame a Chechen than to explore suggestions that Klebnikov had uncovered documents which influential figures in the Byzantine world of Russian politics and business did not want to be published.
It has been suggested that the journalist was working on a story that would have shown how millions of dollars earmarked by the Kremlin to rebuild Chechnya had been stolen. He is also believed to have been looking into links between organised crime and Russia’s car industry.