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Third Anniversary Of Klebnikov Murder

This month marks the third anniversary of the murder of Paul Klebnikov, then editor of Forbes Russia magazine. The perpetrators of this heinous crime remain at large.

In a written statement, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack urged the Russian government to "rededicate itself to making resolution of this case a law enforcement priority." The U.S. is prepared to help bring the perpetrators to justice.

Two men accused of being the gunmen in the slaying of Mr. Klebnikov were acquitted in a closed jury trial in May 2006. Following an appeal, the Russian supreme court ordered a retrial. But that trial has been stalled indefinitely because one of the suspects, Kazbek Dukuzov, disappeared in February. The Moscow city court announced that the trial will not continue until Mr. Dukuzov is found.

Russia continues to be a dangerous place for journalists. Since 2000, at least twelve journalists have been killed in contract-style slayings. Most of the murders remain unsolved, including the case of Anna Politkovskaya. She wrote for "Novaya Gazeta" -- a Russian newspaper that has taken a stand critical of the government. Yevgeny Gerasimenko, an investigative reporter for the newspaper "Saratovsky Rasklad" was found dead with a plastic bag over his head, his hands bound behind his back. Two successive editors of the newspaper "Tolyattinskoye Obozreniye", and independent television journalist Dmitry Shvets were also murdered for their journalistic efforts.

"Investigative journalists are very often in danger," said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, "because by their very nature they expose truth. . . .but without investigative journalists who are willing to seek the truth, it's very hard for a democracy to function." That's why it is critical for the Russian government to find and prosecute those who have killed reporters in Russia.

"The intimidation and murder of journalists," said State Department spokesman McCormack, "is an affront to free and independent media and all who respect democratic values and must not be tolerated."