"There isn’t a single person inside the bureau who believes this guy got drunk, fell down, and died," an anonymous FBI agent tells BuzzFeed. Mikhail Lesin, the founder of Russian state-run media RT and a former senior adviser to Vladimir Putin, was found dead in 2015 in his hotel room in Washington DC. More than a year after his death, a federal prosecutor ruled Lesin—who had multiple blunt-force injuries to his head, neck, and torso—died due to getting drunk and falling down multiple times. Now, two FBI agents and a US intelligence officer say that's not the case. “Lesin was beaten to death,” says one FBI agent, who adds the US government appears to want that fact covered up.
At the time of his death, Lesin was staying in a hotel room paid for by the Justice Department, according to BuzzFeed's sources. He died the night before he was scheduled to meet with the department to discuss the workings of the Russian propaganda machine. One agent says the consensus in the FBI is that Lesin was assassinated on the orders of the Kremlin or Putin himself. “Whether it was over RT, money, pissing off Putin, or a combo, or all of it, I don’t know,” one FBI agent says. “But falling down drunk? Come on. That’s bullshit.” BuzzFeed is suing to get the FBI's investigative file on the case. And they're not alone. A reporter with Radio Free Europe is suing the DC medical examiner's office to obtain the autopsy report on Lesin, as well as communications between the medical examiner, FBI, and State Department regarding his death, Courthouse News reports. (Read more Russia stories.)