Reporters Without Borders has appealed to Russian judicial authorities not to close the investigation into the murder of journalist Paul Khlebnikov before ensuring that every possible lead had been exhausted.
Russian prosecutors said on 16 June 2005 that the murder had been ordered by Chechen separatist Hodj-Akhmed Nukhayev and that they were closing the case
The American journalist, of Russian origin, editor of the Russian version of Forbes magazine, was murdered in Moscow on 9 July 2004. He had quoted Nukhayev in his book "Conversations with a Barbarian" that came out in English and Russian in 2003.
"It is essential that this case is cleared up," said Reporters Without Borders. "We urge the Russian judicial authorities to thoroughly follow up every lead before closing the investigation.
"It would be particularly serious to find that those who have been charged are only 'guilty by circumstance'. Violence against journalists in Russia has become entrenched in the past five years, leading to a degree of self-censorship".
The Khlebnikov family has urged the Russian judicial authorities to allow other countries' investigators to join the inquiry, stressing that the suspected instigator was abroad.
"I hope the evidence on which the Russian prosecutors based their conclusions will be made fully available to the public," said Steve Forbes, chairman of the magazine in the United States on 16 June.
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
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