Two Chechens are to stand trial for the murder of U.S journalist Paul Klebnikov, prosecutors announced Monday, saying the high-profile crime was a contract killing ordered by a former Chechen separatist figure.
Klebnikov, a 41-year-old American of Russian descent who was the editor of Forbes magazine's Russian edition, was gunned down outside the magazine's Moscow offices on July 9, 2004.
Two Chechens currently in pre-trial custody, Kazbek Dukuzov and Musa Vakhayev, are being charged with the murder and with other alleged crimes, the Prosecutor-General's office said in a statement on its Web site.
Prosecutors said Khozh-Akhmed Nukhayev, a former deputy prime minister in Chechnya's separatist government, had offered the two men and other accomplices money to carry out the murder. Nukhayev was the subject of a critical book by Klebnikov called "Conversations with a Barbarian."
Investigators have given no evidence to back up their conclusion, however, and doubts remain about whether the suspects were involved.
Klebnikov's family has expressed skepticism about the Chechens' involvement, and urged the Russian government to invite U.S. law enforcement agencies into the investigation.
His brother, Michael, said that Klebnikov had given him the impression that Nukhayev was actually pleased with the book. The former separatist figure is under a search warrant and his whereabouts are unknown.
Some observers have pointed to the journalist's investigative work as a more likely motive, saying Klebnikov had delved deep into the still-murky post-Soviet business world in his work at Forbes, AP reported. V.A.