As he lay bleeding on the street from four bullet wounds to the chest, American journalist Paul Klebnikov struggled to breathe. The first ambulance that showed up, according to a witness, couldn't give him oxygen because it didn't have any.
When medics brought him to a hospital, the gate was locked and the ambulance had to wait. When they tried to take Klebnikov to an operating room, the witness said, the elevator broke down. It took at least 10 minutes for a repairman to get it going again. By the time the elevator door opened, a medic had declared Klebnikov dead.
In the end, the Russia that Paul Klebnikov loved, the country of his ancestors and of the future he hoped to build here with his family, would prove to be his demise. Friends say that when he came to Moscow six months ago, he was filled with optimism about a place changing for the better. Yet he fell victim to the many ways it has not changed -- struck down in a city where business disputes are still often solved by hired gunmen and state agencies are ill-equipped to come to the rescue of those in need.
"We all felt, including Paul, that they're no longer hiring assassins in Russia, they're hiring lawyers to settle their disputes," said Boris Jordan, a Russian American investment banker and close friend of Klebnikov's. "The fact is, that doesn't seem to be the case."
Klebnikov, 41, was a longtime investigative reporter and editor at Forbes magazine who launched its Russian edition in April. He was memorialized Wednesday at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, a symbol of the Russian rebirth he hoped to chronicle. At the service in the vast church near the Kremlin, torn down by the dictator Joseph Stalin and rebuilt after the fall of communism, mourners knelt before his open coffin, crossed themselves and kissed him goodbye.
Russian investigators have made no arrests in the Friday night killing, the first murder of an American journalist in the post-Soviet era and the first contract-style slaying of an American in Moscow in eight years.
Klebnikov's two older brothers said Wednesday that Russia could validate their dead sibling's faith in the country by finding his killers. "This is a wonderful opportunity for the Russian government to show the world it has turned the corner," Michael Klebnikov said at a news conference at the U.S. Embassy. "They have every incentive to demonstrate their competence."
The surviving Klebnikov brothers, Michael and Peter, dressed in identical black suits, spoke the fluent Russian of an exile family that never lost its connections here. Their family traces its history in Russia back 500 years, and Michael compared Paul to their illustrious ancestor, Ivan Pouschine, who was a friend of the poet Alexander Pushkin and was exiled to Siberia for his role in the failed 1825 rebellion known as the Decembrist uprising .
Paul Klebnikov, a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, Yale University and the London School of Economics, spent much of his career reporting on Russia, often exploring the secretive world where money, power and violence intersect in the new Russia.
He became known for his exposes on the tycoons who emerged from the often corrupt and bloody introduction of capitalism in the 1990s. But lately, he had taken a more optimistic view. "He felt that the time of buccaneer capitalism had ended," Peter Klebnikov said.
Some admirers wondered whether that played into his downfall. "He was a Russian romantic," Boris Nemtsov, a pro-market political leader, said as he left the service. "Maybe he was too idealistic."
Nemtsov said President Vladimir Putin had ushered in a new era in which attacks on journalists have become increasingly common. "This is Putin capitalism, not bandit," he said. "This is KGB capitalism. Fourteen journalists were killed in Putin's time. They hate independence of press."
Vladimir Ustinov, Russia's prosecutor general, has taken over the investigation and attended Wednesday's service. But Putin has made no public comment on Klebnikov's death and, according to the family, sent no private condolences.
A Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, said Putin was "very sorry, and the fact that the case was taken by the prosecutor general shows that Russian authorities are paying a lot of attention to it."
The U.S. Embassy said the FBI had offered to help but Russian investigators had yet to respond.
Because of Klebnikov's crusading reputation, there is a cottage industry of theories about his death. Boris Berezovsky, a billionaire former Kremlin insider who sued Klebnikov over his coverage, told reporters the day after the slaying that Klebnikov must have angered someone who took revenge "Russian-style."
Most attention has focused on the inaugural issue of Forbes Russia, which listed the 100 richest people in a country that tries to hide wealth from tax collectors. Klebnikov's brothers, however, said he had received no threats. In addition to an accusatory book on Berezovsky, Klebnikov wrote a book about a separatist commander in Chechnya, leading many to wonder about a Chechen connection.
New details about Klebnikov's final minutes have generated additional outrage among Russians, who have flooded radio talk shows with complaints about the poor treatment Klebnikov received.
Alexander Gordeyev, editor of Newsweek's new Russian edition, located in the same building as Forbes, said he rushed outside as soon as he heard about the shooting and found Klebnikov dying. Klebnikov, he said, told him that one or more armed people had followed him in a car as he left work, then opened fire, but that he did not recognize them. Klebnikov added that he had no idea who might have wanted him dead.
An ambulance arrived. "He asked for oxygen but there wasn't any in the ambulance," Gordeyev said. By the time Klebnikov was taken to the hospital, he was slipping away. When the elevator there stopped, Gordeyev said, "Nobody seemed to be trying to do anything." Finally, "a man walked in slowly with a tool and he opened the door." A medic in the elevator said Klebnikov had died. But a doctor later asserted that Klebnikov actually died in the operating room.
The experience left even optimists about Russia questioning their faith. As Jordan left the service Wednesday, he shook his head. "It's a catastrophe," he said. In a later telephone interview, he added, "If this is not resolved, it will put an incredible amount of doubt in people's minds about whether they can do business here, whether they should send journalists here and whether Russia belongs to groups of civilized nations like the G-8."
For the family, such issues are less important than the human toll. Michael Klebnikov recalled speaking with his niece before flying to Moscow. "His young daughter asked why I only had my papa for four years and God will have him forever. It's not fair."