Chechen rebel leader accused in killing of U.S. journalist

June 17, 2005|By CHICAGO TRIBUNE

MOSCOW - Russian authorities yesterday accused a Chechen rebel leader of ordering the July slaying of American magazine editor Paul Klebnikov.

Klebnikov was shot to death as he left the downtown Moscow office of the Russian edition of Forbes magazine, where he was editor in chief. The murder shook journalists in Russia, which has seen at least 11 journalists killed in contract slayings in the past five years.

Russian prosecutors said they believe Khozh-Akhmed Nukhayev, a former Chechen rebel commander and an alleged Russian mob figure, masterminded Klebnikov's slaying. Nukhayev was the focus of Conversations with a Barbarian, a book by Klebnikov published in 2003 that took a critical view of separatists in Chechnya.

Prosecutors named four other Chechen men they alleged were involved in Klebnikov's slaying. Kazbek Dukuzov and Musa Vakhayev are in custody. The whereabouts of Nukhayev and the two others are unknown.

Russian prosecutors said Nukhayev paid the other men an unspecified amount of money to kill Klebnikov in retaliation for his portrayal of the Chechen rebel leader in the book.

Prosecutors gave little information about what evidence they had to tie Nukhayev and the other Chechen men to Klebnikov's death.

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