This isn’t a movie, this is real life. A former top officials in Russia, and close ally of Vladimir Putin named Mikhail Y. Lesin was found dead in a Washington D.C. hotel back in November of what was said to have been a heart attack.
Well, it turns out this was far from the truth. On Thursday, the chief medical examiner of Washington said that Lesin didn’t die from a heart attack, rather blunt force trauma to the head. Signs of blunt trauma were found on his neck, torso, arms, and legs which signaled that some sort of altercation happened before he returned to his hotel room.
The medical examiner stopped short of saying this was the result of a criminal act but authorities no longer see this as a death by natural causes; which is where this mystery begins. As the New York Times points out:
Although the examiner and the police did not declare his death a criminal act, the authorities clearly no longer consider it to be the result of natural causes. Mr. Lesin’s body also showed signs of blunt trauma to his neck, torso, arms and legs, the result, according to one official, of some sort of altercation that happened before he returned to his room at the Dupont Circle Hotel on the night in November when he died at the age of 59.
The medical examiner’s office did not explain the timing of its announcement, nor why the findings took so long. Officials there had said as recently as Wednesday that it would not imminently release its findings, only to reverse course the next day. His death remains the subject of a police investigation, though spokesmen for the Metropolitan Police Department and the F.B.I. in Washington declined to comment.
Lesin rose to power after the fall of the Soviet Union, becoming a successful advertising executive at Gazprom Media. From there he leveraged that into a post in the new Putin administration as a minister of the media.
During his time in that post, the government began its serious crackdown and takeover of independent media. He also helped build the Kremlins international and english-speaking network, RT.
However, as the New York Times points out, there was some trouble in paradise for Lesin:
For months, Mr. Lesin’s fate has been the subject of much speculation. In the Russian news media, he was said to have had a falling out with a major shareholder of Gazprom Media, Yuri V. Kovalchuk, an even closer business ally and friend of Mr. Putin’s. Some speculated that he had fled to the United States in a kind of self-exile, one that is not unknown among ministers and businessmen who once were in favor inside Mr. Putin’s Kremlin.
Karen Dawisha, a professor at Miami University and the author of “Putin’s Kleptocracy” about corruption among Putin’s allies, said that Mr. Lesin’s close ties to the Kremlin and its formal and informal controls over the media made him an improbable exile in the United States. “He knew more than most about the system’s dark center,” she said.
Additionally, U.S. lawmakers began to look at Lesin’s properties in Los Angeles and the British Virgin Islands as very suspicious as their value far exceeded his reported means.
Will U.S. authorities every get to the bottom of this or is something more complicated happening? Sound off in the comments below!