Established in 2003, Forbes Russia became the fifth, but by far the best, magazine in the international Forbes family. Bursting with ads, it was a true diamond in the Forbes crown. (Disclaimer: I was Forbes’ editor in chief for almost 3 years, from 2011 to 2013.)
The first license belonged to Axel Springer, and the founding team of journalists was truly brilliant. It included figures like Paul Khlebnikov, an American-born journalist and writer who was assassinated less than three months after the magazine was launched, Leonid Bershidsky, currently one of the most popular columnists at Bloomberg and Maxim Kashulinsky, an experienced business editor who led the magazine for 7 years after Khlebnikov’s tragic death.
Forbes’ commercial and editorial success was a reflection and result of the enormous success of the Russian economy — fuelled by galloping oil prices —during Putin’s first two presidential terms. The Forbes team witnessed and bore testimony to the magazine’s phenomenal growth.
Following the best practices of American investigative journalism, the magazine was the first outlet to report on the Rotenberg brothers and the first to publish a Russian interview with Gennady Timchenko (both are some of Putin’s closest allies). Forbes also broke the story about Yevgeny Prigozhin (“Putin’s cook,” who was indicted on criminal charges in the U.S. earlier this year) and had many other scoops of equal impact.