BuzzFeed News published a striking new report this week revealing that the FBI possesses a secret report asserting that Vladimir Putin’s former media czar, Mikhail Lesin, was beaten to death by hired thugs in Washington, D.C.
The secret report, written by Christopher Steele, directly contradicts officials’ findings that concluded Lesin’s death was an accident.
Lesin, adviser to Vladimir Putin and founder of Russia Today (RT), was found dead in his hotel room on Nov. 5, 2015. Immediately following the news of his death, Lesin’s family stated that he died of a heart attack.
However, a coroner’s report determined Lesin’s cause of death to be blunt force trauma to the head. Lesin also sustained blunt force trauma to his neck, torso and upper and lower extremities.
An 11-month investigation concluded in late 2016, and it was determined that Lesin died alone in his room due to a series of drunken falls “after days of excessive consumption of alcohol.” His death was officially ruled an accident, and the coroner confirmed that acute alcohol intoxication was a contributing cause of death.
While the case was subsequently closed, circumstances surrounding Lesin’s death have left more questions than answers.
An FBI agent told BuzzFeed News last year: “What I can tell you is that there isn’t a single person inside the bureau who believes this guy got drunk, fell down and died. Everyone thinks he was whacked, and that Putin or the Kremlin were behind it.”
With their new report, BuzzFeed News confirmed through 11 sources the existence of a Steele document that casts even more doubt on the official findings of Lesin’s death.
BuzzFeed news was able to establish that Steele’s report states that Lesin was bludgeoned to death by enforcers working for an oligarch close to Putin. According to the report, the men had been instructed to beat Lesin – but not kill him.
Seven of BuzzFeed’s sources said they heard about the document from colleagues or were briefed on it, and four other sources claimed to have read all or part of the report. FBI spokesperson Andrew Ames declined to confirm or deny the existence of the report
According to BuzzFeed News, the alleged Steele report is not the FBI’s only source that contradicts the official findings of Lesin’s death.
Three other individuals acting independently from Steele also said they told the FBI that Lesin had been bludgeoned to death by enforcers working for the same oligarch named by Steele.
“It’s really hard to imagine that it was an innocent death,” former CIA intelligence officer John Sipher told BuzzFeed News. “Everybody I know who’s a professional and dealt with Russia — the immediate assumption is that he was murdered.”
The international community in recent months has seen Russia’s true colors, with the Kremlin also being blamed for poisoning a former Russian spy and his daughter, along with the ongoing accusations of election meddling. This new report only adds more fuel to the fire, and confirms the ongoing concern that Russia has a frightening amount of influence in many corners of the world.