This article was updated on July 18, 2004 at 3:03 p.m.
MOSCOW — First possible leads on the motives for the killing of Paul Klebnikov, the American-born editor of Forbes Russian edition, came Friday with news from associates that the journalist had begun research into a new book on the 1995 murder of Vladislav Listyev, who was then director general of national channel ORT (Public Russian Television).
Klebnikov died on the evening of July 9 on his way to the hospital from injuries after he was shot from a passing car after leaving the Forbes office in the Russian capital.
Initial suggestions on motivation for the slaying, which has attracted worldwide attention, were scarce, given that Klebnikov had not been investigating stories in his tenure as editor of Forbes. To date, speculation was mostly connected to the publication of a Russia’s 100 Richest People list in the magazine’s May issue.
However, Russian book publisher Valery Streletsky was quoted in local press Friday saying that Klebnikov had begun research on a book about the Listyev killing. Listyev, a popular television show presenter, was killed shortly after assuming the top job at the newly privatized national channel almost a decade ago.
Among suspects in that death was the Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who now lives in exile in London. Klebnikov later wrote a book, published in English and in Russian (by Streletsky’s company), about Berezovsky titled “Godfather of the Kremlin.”
However, Berezovsky went on to challenge and win a U.K. court action over assumptions behind a 1996 profile of the oligarch in Forbes magazine written by Klebnikov.
One of few to comment in the aftermath of Klebnikov’s death, Berezovsky complained about the subjectivity with which the reporter had interpreted and presented facts. He said that he was not aware that the American journalist was engaged in a book project.
Control over ongoing investigations into the killing has been transferred to Russia’s chief prosecutor, Vladimir Ustinov.