Introduced by Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, and Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, the resolution demands that the mastermind and triggermen of the killing be brought to justice. It also asks the Russian government to allow the assistance of the U.S. government in the investigation–which has so far been denied–and to provide help to foreign journalists who are currently trying to research the murder.
The Russian government says the murder was ordered by a Chechen warlord who was the subject of a controversial Russian-language book by Klebnikov. The underworld figure has not been found, however, and two Chechen men accused of the killing were tried in Moscow in May. They were acquitted following a closed trial, prompting widespread criticism about the trial’s conduct, including charges of jury tampering.
The U.S. government and the Klebnikov family publicly expressed disappointment with the outcome and asked that the Russians continue the search for the real killers. Klebnikov was survived by his wife and three young children.
Earlier this month, Larisa Maslennikova, the lawyer representing the Klebnikov family, filed a complaint with the Russian Supreme Court, charging that the judicial system was not cooperating with their requests for a new trial of the two men who were acquitted in May. “She caught some serious procedural violations of the trial rules,” says Michael Klebnikov, Paul’s brother. The prosecutor’s office has also said it would appeal the lower court verdict based on technicalities.
The first judge was relieved of duty due to illness, but there was then a period of several weeks before the selection of the next judge. The family also charges that the first jury was disbanded for unclear reasons, and that the next jury was not properly sequestered; some jurors were also intimidated by individuals not associated with the court.
Also, the family had trouble obtaining a copy of the transcript of the trial, known as the protocol (there are no recorded copies of the trial, and the protocol is pre-edited). The Moscow city court’s delay in handing over the protocol has meant that it has taken the family longer to prepare an appeal. It expects to do so by the deadline set by the Supreme Court, Aug. 10.