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Death of Ex-Putin Aide in DC Ruled Accidental

  • VOA News

FILE - Mikhail Lesin served as Russian press minister from 1999 to 2004 and presidential media adviser from 2004 to 2009.

FILE - Mikhail Lesin served as Russian press minister from 1999 to 2004 and presidential media adviser from 2004 to 2009.

U.S. authorities said Friday that the unexplained death last year of a Russian media executive in a Washington hotel was accidental and caused partly by alcohol poisoning after days of heavy drinking.

Following a yearlong investigation by city police along with assistance from the FBI, District of Columbia authorities said the death of Mikhail Lesin, a former adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, was partly attributable to "acute ethanol intoxication."

A statement by D.C. police and the U.S. attorney's office for the District of Columbia said, "Based on the evidence, including video footage and witness interviews, Mr Lesin ... sustained the injuries that resulted in his death while alone in his hotel room."

Officials said Lesin was injured in successive falls due to alcohol poisoning. The chief medical examiner for the case ruled the cause of Lesin's death on November 5, 2015, was "blunt force injuries to his head, with contributing causes being blunt force injuries of the neck, torso, upper extremities and lower extremities, which were induced by falls, with acute ethanol intoxication."

Lesin, who was 57 at the time of his death, was a founder of the Russian English-language television network RT. His death in a hotel in Washington's fashionable Dupont Circle neighborhood sparked a host of theories about how he died, including speculation he was murdered.

Russian officials complained in March that they were not receiving information about the U.S. investigation.

Lesin had served as Russian press minister from 1999 to 2004 and was presidential media adviser from 2004 to 2009. He also was a senior executive at Gazprom-Media, Russia's largest media holding company, from 2013 to 2014.

In 2014, U.S. Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi called for an investigation into Lesin for alleged money laundering and corruption. Wicker said Lesin accrued multimillion-dollar assets in the United States and Europe while serving as a Russian government minister, including $28 million worth of real estate assets in Los Angeles.

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