Top Putin aide declared murdered by “blunt force trauma” in downtown Washington hotel
By Nate Thayer
March 10, 2016
A close aide and chief propagandist of Vladimir Putin, who was found dead in a Washington hotel room in November 2015, was declared killed by “blunt force trauma” to his neck, torso and upper and lower extremities, the Washington, D.C. medical examiner announced today.
The official cause of death is sure to send the whispering class into a tizzy over who was behind the who done it.
The findings have set off high-decibal chatter of who was responsible for the death of the controversial Russian who was responsible for turning Russian media into a largely unified propaganda arm of the dictator Putin in recent years.
Mikhail “Bulldozer” Lesin, 57, was Putin’s press minister from 1999-2004 and described as the ‘Svengali figure for Putin’. State propaganda arm, Russian Today, immediately declared the death as a “heart attack” in November.
Lesin was head of Gazprom Media, a dominant state-owned media conglomerate from 2013 to 2015. He was known to have had an altercation with Yury Kovalchuk, a top confidante of Putin and a shareholder in Gazprom from whom Lesin was said to have owed money. Lesin owed money to Kovalchuk. “One of the main reasons (Lesin resigned) was that he owed a huge amount of money to Kovalchuk, which he supposedly didn’t intend to pay back,” a source told the Moscow Times at the time of his death.
Lesin moved to the U.S., where he purchased property that was well beyond the means of a former civil servant. They included:
**$13.8 million house of 1,200 square metres (13,000 sq ft) at 10 Beverly Park, Beverly Hills, California
**$9 million house of 980 square metres (10,500 sq ft) at 321 Bristol Avenue, Brentwood, Los Angeles, California
**$5.6 million house of 630 square metres (6,800 sq ft) in Beverly Park, Los Angeles, California
**$4.3 million house along Mulholland Drive at 13327 Java Drive, Beverly Hills, California
**$3.995 million house of 570 square metres (6,100 sq ft) in Palisades Highlands, Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California
Lesin also owned a $50 million dollar 55 meter long yacht which has been found abandoned in Brisbane Austrailia since his death.
When Lesin died, Putin issued a statement saying he had “high appreciation for Mikhail Lesin’s massive contribution to the creation of modern Russian mass media.”
A U.S. justice department investigation remains underway into whether Lesin had violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Lesin’s son, Anton Lesin, lives in Hollywood involved in filmmaking including Brad Pitt’s “Fury” and Woody Allen’s “Fading Gigolo.” Lesin’s daughter works for the Russian state propaganda arm, Russia Today.
Meanwhile, the Russian embassy complained that Washington had not kept them informed on 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.”
Alexei Venediktov president of the Echo TV Russia said “Lesin was trapped in problems, investigated in the U.S., facing debts of about $90 million here in Russia.”
Venediktov was wary of the reports on Lesin’s cause of death. “He did not have any ID on him in the hotel room, that is very strange; his family were not with him when he died. They sounded too quick to jump on the heart attack version, as if they were trying to secure some different story.”
Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, who called Lesin a “patriot on the state budget” was also skeptical. “Here is Mikhail Lesin, current head of Gazprom–Media, one of the key men responsible for conducting censorship … a big patriot and fan of news reports about evil America and about the greatness of Putin,” Navalny wrote in his blog in July, 2014.
Lesin said last year that “I got used long ago to not being loved.”