Two of those charged with the July 2004 murder of American Paul Klebnikov, the former editor of Forbes Russia magazine, have been acquitted by a Russian jury. Prosecutors have asked the Russian Supreme Court to throw out the verdict and order a new trial. The acquittals mean that so far no one is has been held accountable for Klebnikov's killing.
Mr. Klebnikov had written a number of books and articles that angered some of the people and groups about which he wrote. Among other topics, he wrote about the dealings of Russia's business tycoons.
The U.S. urges Russian authorities to do everything possible to find and prosecute all those responsible -- those who pulled the trigger and those who ordered the murder. The United States is prepared to assist Russian authorities in their investigation.
The intimidation and murder of journalists, said U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, is an affront to all who uphold democratic values and cannot be tolerated. The monitoring group Reporters Without Borders is also calling for a new investigation into the murder of Paul Klebnikov.
Russia can be a dangerous country for journalists. A recent report by the Committee to Protect Journalists says twelve reporters have been killed in Russia in work-related and contract-style killings. No one has been brought to justice in eleven of the twelve cases.
The latest State Department human rights report says the Russian media continue to be subjected to pressure from the government. The Russian government uses its controlling interest in all national television and radio stations, as well as the majority of influential regional ones, to restrict access to information on all kinds of issues, in particular, events in Chechnya. Moreover, government pressure frequently leads reporters in Russia to engage in self-censorship.
It is time for the Russian government to demonstrate a renewed commitment to media freedom. "Russia has a choice to make," said Vice President Dick Cheney. "And there is no question that a return to democratic reform in Russia will generate further success for its people and greater respect among fellow nations."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.