Mikhail Lesin, former Russian Press Minister under Vladimir Putin, died in November 2015, in Washington D.C. At the time of his death, a forensics report was not released. Although he may have had a heart attack. On March 10, 2016, USA Today reported he suffered multiple blunt force blows to his head, neck, torso, as well as his upper and lower extremities. However, the exact manner of death was stated as undetermined.
Deutsche Welle (DW), a news service out of Germany reported, “the mystery of the death of Lesin deepened this week.” According to DW, Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry took to Facebook complaining that the Washington Russian Embassy had “repeatedly requested information” surrounding the death of Lesin. She continued to state Russian authorities were still awaiting clarification of the news released today by the Americans.
Zakharova said, “If the information published today by the media is true, the Russian authorities will send a request for international legal assistance to their American counterparts.” A spokesperson for Putin, Dmitry Peskov repeated that the Kremlin was awaiting official news from the United States.
Russian officials claim the U.S. forensic reports released regarding the death of Putin’s former aid, Lesin, are “largely impersonal.” According to USA Today, Putin spokesperson, Peskov was quoted by the TASS news agency, stating, “One can’t say that [the reasons for Lesin’s death] were reported now – this is just a collection of information.” He also complained the news came through media publication.
The 59-year-old former Putin aid was found dead in a hotel room on Nov. 5, 2016, according to a report last fall in the Daily Mail. The news at the time was varied, some of the Daily Mail sources stated he may have been murdered because he was in informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Russian officials stated he was still alive. However, Russia Today (RT), which is a propaganda channel supporting Putin, claimed Lesin “had been suffering from a prolonged unidentified illness.” The news that Lesin had died of a heart attack was reportedly released by his family, according to Russian state media sources.
Lesin was a former aide to Putin, who had served as the Russian Minister of Press, Radio, and Television. He held this position between 1999 and 2004. Then between 2004-2009, he was a presidential media advisor.
Between 2013-15, Lesin was the head of Gazprom-Media. He resigned from the state-controlled media group “due to family reasons,” according to a Dec. 19, 2014, report from The Moscow Times. “Forbes Russia had cited sources in the media” stating that Putin, himself, made the decision that Lesin was to resign. Additionally, the business news service, RosBusinessConsulting (RBC) claimed an undisclosed source stated the decision was made by a close Putin ally, Yury Kovalchuk.
All this news/media flurry occurred after U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, Republican from Mississippi, made a request that Lesin be investigated for possible money laundering during a real estate purchase in California. At the time, in 2014, Lesin flatly denied the allegations.
USA Today described Lesin as “a prominent Russian millionaire” who died last year. The statement released on March 10, regarding the forensic relating to Lesin’s cause of death, was released as a joint statement from Washington Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Representatives of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, Zakharova and Peskov, have each complained the information released regarding the forensics surrounding the November 2015 death of Mikhail Lesin is lacking. Pro-Putin propaganda-based media appears to be making now attempt to make any clear claims concerning the situation. There has been no official statement made by Putin, himself regarding the U.S. findings of the death of his former aid. Furthermore, according to USA Today, there has been no indication regarding Lesin’s presence in the United States at the time of his death.
By Cathy Milne
USA Today: Russian official died of blunt force trauma in D.C. hotel
Deutsche Welle (DW): Moscow ‘waiting’ for answers after U.S. says ex-Putin aide died of blunt-force trauma to head
Deutsche Welle (DW): Former Russian press minister Mikhail Lesin dies in Washington
Daily Mail: EXCLUSIVE: Vladimir Putin’s media Svengali who was found dead in DC hotel was ‘murdered for being an FBI informant’ – or could even still be alive, claim Russians
The Moscow Times: Mikhail Lesin Resigns as Head of Gazprom-Media
Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Kremlin.ru via Wikimedia – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Milica Bozic via Wikimedia – Creative Commons License