The greatest obstacle journalists face, he says, is penetrating the closed worlds of business and politics in Putin’s Russia. Still, in August 2008 Forbes Russia published a sharply written profile of Yuri Kovalchuk, a long-time friend of Putin who has amassed a vast personal fortune through the acquisition of state-owned assets, as well as a sizable media empire that includes Izvestia and REN TV. Today, as head of Bank Rossiya, Kovalchuk is worth roughly $15 billion.
There are stories Forbes won’t pursue, but that has more to do with a lack of resources—they have roughly twenty editors and reporters—and access to information than to the sensitivity of the subject matter itself. Kashulinsky says he’s had to turn promising stories down simply because he knows they’d stretch the magazine’s limited budget and he doesn’t have the resources for projects that would likely only lead to dead ends. When I ask him if he can provide me with some examples he pauses and says, “There are several, but someday we’ll do them.”
Research support for this story was generously provided by the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.