Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 37

The Moscow City Court on September 29 granted a request by the Prosecutor General’s office that the pre-trial detention of one of the suspects arrested for the July 2004 murder of Forbes Russia editor-in-chief Paul Klebnikov, Musa Vakhaev, be extended two months—until December 9. According to RIA Novosti, prosecutors argued that Vakhaev might flee and intimidate witnesses if he were freed. On September 28, Moscow’s Basmanny court extended the pre-trial detention of two other suspects in the case, Kazbek Dukuzov and Fail Sadretdinov, also until December 9. According to investigators, Vakhaev and Dukuzov, both natives of Chechnya, drove up to the offices of Forbes Russia in Moscow in a Zhiguli car with fake license plates and shot Klebnikov at least ten times with a Makarov pistol when he came out of the building. The two suspects were detained by authorities in Belarus last November and extradited to Russia.

Izvestia on September 27 quoted an official from the Prosecutor General’s Office, Vyacheslav Smirnov, as saying that Dukuzov is also accused of involvement in the June 2004 murder of former Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Yan Sergunin, as well as the attempted murder of former senior Yukos official Aleksei Pichugin (who was himself found guilty of murder and conspiracy to murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison).

Four other suspects in the Klebnikov murder—Khozh-Akhmd Nukhaev, Magomed Edilsultanov, Magomed Dukuzov (Kazbek Dukuzov’s brother) and Marat Valaev—have been put on the international wanted list. The Prosecutor General’s Office announced in June that it had established that Nukhaev, a former separatist official and reputed organized crime figure who was the subject of Klebnikov’s book “Conversation with a Barbarian,” ordered Klebnikov murdered because the American journalist “had negatively referred to Nukhaev and criticized his remarks in the book.” Yet the lawyer for Dukuzov and Vakhaev, Ruslan Khasanov, said his clients categorically deny any involvement in Klebnikov’s murder and have never even met Nukhaev, Kavkazky Uzel reported on September 26.

In June, Kavkazky Uzel cited unnamed sources as saying they believed Nukhaev was killed together with Chechen rebel field commander Ruslan Gelaev in the mountains of Dagestan in early 2004 (see Chechnya Weekly, June 22). In August, Michael Klebnikov was quoted by the New York Sun as saying that he was “skeptical” of Russian investigators’ conclusion that Nukhaev murdered his brother (see Chechnya Weekly August 18).