Project Klebnikov

July 14th, 2005 by hjl

A brief article in today’s Wall Street Journal notes that it’s been a year since Paul Klebnikov ‘81 was killed in Moscow, just after starting the Russian edition of Forbes magazine, in what appears to have been a professional assassination. The case remains unsolved.

I hadn’t seen Paul in years when I heard the news while travelling in Asia last summer. I was jetlagged and had flipped on the BBC at 3 or 4 in the morning just as the story was being covered, which was simultaneously jarring and surreal. I thought back to many debates / arguments with Paul, Tony Gardner, Greg Daniels, and Justin D’Armes over otherwise forgettable dining hall meals at Exeter, and was thinking that Paul had probably written or said something brilliant but really annoying to the wrong people in Russia.

A group of journalists have started a project to continue the investigation, at Project Klebnikov.

The account of the first American reporter killed contract-style in Russia never got much traction in the West. It was a story without a Nielsen audience, and convoluted as well, set amid a tangle of Kremlin power struggles, corrupt oligarchs, military and intelligence cabals, embezzlement of foreign aid, Chechen terrorists and Russian organized crime elements ranging from Moscow to Chechnya to London and New York.

Project Klebnikov is a global alliance specifically devoted to developing new information on the Klebnikov murder and to furthering some of the investigative work Paul began. Our reporters and editors are drawn from the full spectrum of international media outlets. (Some of us must remain anonymous, at least for the time being.) Individual journalists will publish and broadcast their own stories via the newspapers, broadcast networks, wire services, news magazines and other media with which they are affiliated. Joint ventures, when feasible, will be encouraged. We will also gather and share background information, documents and leads through a virtual bureau coordinated by a core membership. Alliance members and our website ( will be available to Russian colleagues and anyone else with an interest in the case, whether they are journalists, government officials, concerned citizens or sources with information to contribute.

A recap of the case by UPI writer Peter Lavelle is here.