Paul Klebnikov, 41, the first editor of Forbes Russia, was murdered in Moscow on July 9. Klebnikov had joined Forbes in 1989 as a reporter and moved up the ranks to steer the Russian edition. At the magazine's launch in April, he said that Russia, despite setbacks, was entering an era of a free-enterprise kind of capitalism. It was a hopeful, and welcome, view.
Klebnikov was an American of Russian extraction, as am I.
He was born in New York and visited Russia for the first time as a student. With the end of the Soviet regime, he saw an opportunity to help reshape his ancestral homeland from within. I knew Klebnikov and his family, and I followed his work closely, since I am always interested in what others of Russian background think of the land of our forebears.
Klebnikov was a passionate investigative journalist who exposed the world of the post-Soviet "robber barons" and published a list of Russia's wealthiest people. Although the Forbes 400 is greeted each year with barely a blink in the States, "The Golden Hundred of the Richest Businessmen of Russia" caused a stir, since much of that wealth had been appropriated in the tumultuous post-Soviet era of the 1990s, when no one was guarding the till.
Klebnikov's enemies were varied. He exposed corrupt Russian business practices and wrote about Iran's "millionaire mullahs." A story based on interviews with a Chechen warlord and gangster turned businessman and Islamist thinker bore the headline "Conversation with a Barbarian."
Klebnikov was not the first journalist to have fallen victim to what most observers are calling a contract killing. Indeed, he was the 15th such casualty since Vladimir Putin took office.
But Russia's lingering problems shouldn't overshadow the good, including its technology-a concrete indicator of the pure perseverance of the Russian character against all odds. I visited the Soviet Academy of Sciences institutes in Moscow, Minsk and Novosibirsk several times in the 1990s and in 2001. It seemed their engineers and scientists could always do more with less, and I have tried to tell their stories.
I remain optimistic about Russia's prospects and will continue to report not only on its technology, but also on its people and their hopes for a better society.