Ex-Putin crony found dead in Washington died of 'blunt force trauma'
Mikhail Lesin, Vladimir Putin's former press minister and head of media giant GazpromMedia, who was found dead in a D.C. hotel last November, died of blunt force trauma according to the medical examiner.
The mystery surrounding Lesin's death has fueled intense speculation. Lesin was under criminal investigation by the FBI for corruption and money laundering connected with his $30 million in luxury real estate holdings in California. Beyond that, nothing is certain about why he was in America at that time.
But dot-connectors in the media are speculating that Lesin was about to make a deal with the FBI that would have torn the cover off illegal business dealings of high-level Russian government officials in the U.S. It is thought that Lesin knew where the bodies were buried and was murdered to be hushed up.
The government is being tight-lipped about any conclusions drawn from the autopsy.
A former aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin who was found dead in a Dupont Circle hotel room in November died of blunt force trauma to the head, the D.C. medical examiner’s office said Thursday.
Mikhail Lesin, 59, also suffered injuries to his neck, torso and upper and lower extremities, the medical examiner said in a statement. The medical examiner had not concluded whether the injuries were the result of a crime, an accident or some other means.
Dustin Sternbeck, the D.C. police department’s chief spokesman, said the case remains under investigation. He would not say whether the medical examiner’s ruling means a crime may have been committed. “We’re not willing to close off anything at this point,” Sternbeck said.
Russian officials complained Thursday that the United States was not keeping them informed about the investigation.
The Russian Embassy in the United States has repeatedly sent a request through diplomatic channels about the investigation into the death of a Russian citizen,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, in a post on Facebook. “The U.S. side has not provided us with any substantive information. We are waiting for clarification from Washington and the relevant official details on the progress of the investigation.”
I think it's pretty clear that the investigation into Leslin's death and, more importantly, what he might have been singing about to the FBI is ongoing, which explains the reluctance of authorities to come to any conclusion.
Landing Lesin could have led investigators to other, even bigger fish. As Wicker wrote to then-Attorney General Eric Holder in 2014, Lesin “may also have close business ties with individuals subject to U.S. sanctions,” as well as organizations, including Bank Rossiya, which is closely linked to Gazprom, and the bank’s owner, Yury Kovalchuk, a billionaire who ranks among Russia’s richest people, is reportedly close to Putin personally, and was sanctioned by the Treasury Department after Russia invaded Crimea.
If Lesin were found to be violating U.S. money-laundering laws, it could provide a rare opportunity to snare a senior Putin aide. After Wicker pressed the issue, relying in part on public property records that clearly linked the L.A. mansions to Lesin, the Justice Department considered whether to go after him.
Following the news of his death, the Kremlin issued a statement on behalf of Putin, noting “The president has a high appreciation for Mikhail Lesin’s massive contribution to the creation of modern Russian mass media.”
But having Lesin as an informant would been a big contribution to U.S. law enforcement and intelligence. And the information that Wicker and his staff, as well as human-rights groups and journalists, dug up on Lesin may have pushed him closer to the FBI’s arms.
About two weeks after the Justice Department informed Wicker that the allegations against Lesin were referred to the FBI, Lesin resigned as the head of Gazprom-Media, citing unspecified “family reasons.” Kara-Murza, the journalist and Putin critic, who himself fell mysteriously ill last summer, has directly linked the department’s announcement to Lesin’s stepping down and said it showed that the threat of sanctions and prosecution could be used to bring down corrupt Russian officials.
Even if Putin didn't directly order the hit on Lesin, his thug cronies almost certainly did. It's more evidence that the Putin regime is run more like a mafia family than a government.