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Editor of Russian Forbes fatally shot

MOSCOW -- The American editor of Forbes Magazine's Russian edition and author of a book about tycoon Boris Berezovsky was shot to death late yesterday, the magazine said.

Paul Klebnikov, 41, was hit four times outside the magazine's office and died in a rescue-squad vehicle, Russian news reports said. The radio station Ekho Moskvy said shells of two different caliber were found at the scene, indicating at least two assailants.

Police could not be reached for comment, but the killing was confirmed in a statement by Forbes publisher Steve Forbes.

"Paul was a superb reporter -- courageous, dedicated, ever-curious," the statement said. "He knew Russia well. It was a country he deeply loved."

The Interfax news agency said Alexander Gordeyev, editor of the Russian edition of Newsweek magazine, which has offices in the same building, came to Klebnikov's side moments after the shooting.

"I asked Paul several times what he was thinking, why this could have happened. Paul said he didn't know. He said several times that nothing suspicious had happened to him recently," Gordeyev was quoted as saying.

"Then he didn't say anything more on this subject; he just asked for help," Gordeyev said, according to Interfax.

In May, the magazine attracted wide attention by publishing a list of Russia's wealthiest people, claiming that Moscow had more billionaires who worked there or amassed their fortunes there than any other city in the world.

"Here people fly and fall with staggering speed," Klebnikov said at a news conference when the list was released.

His 2000 book "Godfather of the Kremlin: Boris Berezovsky and the Looting of Russia" described how Berezovsky, now living in exile in Britain, allegedly siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars out of Russia.

After Klebnikov wrote a profile of Berezovsky for Forbes in 1996, Berezovsky filed a libel suit against the magazine in Britain.

He withdrew the suit in 2003 after the publication acknowledged it was wrong to allege he was involved in the murder of a television personality.

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