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US Seeks Justice in Murder of Russian-American Journalist


July 9 marks five years since the murder of Russian-American journalist Paul Klebnikov in Moscow. At a memorial service near the Kremlin Tuesday, U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns called on Russia to redouble its efforts to bring to justice those responsible for Klebnikov's shooting in 2004.

Paul Klebnikov would have turned 46 on Thursday. He was gunned down in Moscow as he headed home to his wife and three young children after a day of work editing the Russian edition of Forbes magazine.

At a memorial service Tuesday in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral, U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns remembered Klebnikov as a skilled, dedicated, and courageous journalist. His killers remain at large.

"After five long years, we urge the Russian authorities to redouble their efforts to bring to justice those responsible for Paul's murder," he said.

Burns added that Klebnikov continues to inspire a new generation of journalists in Russia and America and all those who seek truth, and justice in Russia, in America and around the world.

He authored two books on highly sensitive topics. The first, regarding allegations of massive corruption on the part of now exiled Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky - the second, about organized crime and Russia's war in Chechnya.

Two men accused of Klebnikov's murder were acquitted by a jury in 2006. His brother, Peter, told reporters there were multiple obstacles to justice at the trial. The proceeding, as he put it, encapsulated everything wrong with the Russian legal system.

"It ranged from a judge who did not have the courtroom under control to a jury that was not provided adequate security and was harassed and intimidated by families and friends of the defendants to numerous procedural violations of the law," he said.

Klebnikov's widow, Musa, said there is no choice but to persist in the hope of a resolution to her husband's murder.

"Every month and every year that goes by that this case isn't solved, there are more dead journalists. And I think we're all obliged to hope that this can stop and try and make everything possible happen to change the way the murder of journalists is treated. It's beyond a hope. It's an obligation. It's a moral obligation for everybody," she said.

Undersecretary Burns attended the Klebnikov memorial service in place of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who recently broke her elbow and could not accompany President Obama to Moscow. Peter Klebnikov said Secretary Clinton has sought justice within days of his brother's killing and has been unrelenting ever since. He added that Russian investigators have promised to increase efforts to close the murder case. And Musa Klebnikova said Russia has agreed to accept assistance in the matter from the U.S. Justice Department.

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