Putin crony found dead in DC hotel room
The creator of the TV network "Russia Today" (now called RT) was found dead in a Washington, D.C. hotel room on Friday. The police are now investigating the circumstances that led to the death of Mikhail Lesin, the former head of media affairs for the Russian government and a close associate of President Vladimir Putin.
It's unclear why the long-time adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin was in Washington, but the Metropolitan Police Department is now investigating his death. On Thursday, U.S. authorities notified the Russian embassy in Washington that one of its citizens had died, and Russian officials are now working with American authorities to determine the circumstances of the death, the embassy told ABC News in a statement.
Citing an ongoing investigation, an MPD spokesman would only confirm the department is conducting a “death investigation."
Lesin is credited with creating Russia Today, the English-language news network backed by the Russian government. Now known as RT, the network “provides an alternative perspective on major global events, and acquaints an international audience with the Russian viewpoint,” according to its website.
Lesin “led the Kremlin’s efforts to censor Russia’s independent television outlets,” one U.S. lawmaker charged last year.
In fact, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), called on the Justice Department to launch an investigation into Lesin over allegations of corruption and money laundering.
In a letter to then-Attorney General Eric Holder, Wicker said Lesin had “acquired multi-million dollar assets” in Europe and the United States “during his tenure as a civil servant,” including multiple residences in Los Angeles worth $28 million.
“That a Russian public servant could have amassed the considerable funds required to acquire and maintain these assets in Europe and the United States raises serious questions,” Wicker wrote.
It's unclear if the FBI ever begun a probe.
Don't you love Wicker's understatement? "Serious questions," indeed. Lesin was a member in good standing of the Russian oligarchy, all of whom amassed amazing fortunes with the collapse of communism and the subsequent rise of Putin. Lesin's wealth was certainly ill-gotten, but it would probably be very difficult to unravel the skein of his money-making schemes.
RT is claiming Lesin died of a "heart attack." It's nice of them to issue a cause of death before the autopsy. Maybe they employ soothsayers.
In fact, even if the cause of death was a heart attack, the old KGB were experts at making murder appear to be death by natural causes. Why Putin would want Lesin dead isn't immeditately clear, but perhaps it might be related to what he was doing in Washington in the first place.