US diplomat urges Russia to redouble efforts to bring US journalist’s killers to justice

US wants justice in journalist’s killing in Russia

MOSCOW — The United States on Tuesday urged Russia to step up efforts to bring an American journalist’s killers to justice.

Amid a Russian-American summit, a senior U.S. diplomat joined relatives at a memorial ceremony marking five years since magazine editor and investigative journalist Paul Klebnikov was shot dead in Moscow.

“After five long years, we urge the Russian authorities to redouble their efforts to bring to justice those responsible for Paul’s murder,” U.S. Under Secretary of State William Burns said after the service at Russia’s main cathedral, Christ the Savior.

The half-hour service came on the second and final day of President Barack Obama’s first official visit to Moscow.

Klebnikov, editor of the Russian edition of Forbes magazine, was gunned down July 9, 2004, on a Moscow street as he left his office. A jury in 2006 acquitted two suspects tried for the murder in a court case the relatives and observers called flawed due to alleged pressure from authorities on the judge and jurors. The Supreme Court ordered a retrial, but it was suspended after authorities said they couldn’t find one of the suspects.

Klebnikov’s murder underscored dangers faced by journalists who probe into the affairs of prominent Russians. The lack of results in the case has deepened Western concerns about the rule of law in Russia.

Klebnikov’s brother Peter said he met with top Russian investigators earlier Tuesday, and that they had promised to step up efforts to close the case.

Peter Klebnikov ascribed the promise of activity to U.S. pressure, and said he hoped Obama’s visit would stimulate an objective and vigorous investigation to bring an end to “a travesty of justice.”

“We’ve already seen results of a change in the nature and the tone of the investigation due to Mr. Obama’s visit. It gives us great hope that we can finally find some positive results of the murder,” he told The Associated Press. “For five years we’ve been waiting for justice, since my brother was killed. It’s been a sad experience.”

Dozens of journalists have been murdered since the Soviet breakup in Russia, named by international watchdogs as the world’s third-most dangerous place to work as a reporter.

Klebnikov’s family says a more effective investigation and trial in his murder could have sent a strong signal that killings of journalists would not be tolerated — possibly even averting the subsequent killings of at least eight other journalists.

The most prominent was the October 2006 murder of Anna Politkovskaya, a Kremlin critic who exposed human rights abuses in Chechnya and across Russia. Politkovskaya’s son, Ilya, and daughter, Vera, attended the ceremony in Klebnikov’s memory Tuesday.


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