Autopsy: Putin Aide's Death in DC Hotel Wasn't Natural

Moscow wants answers on death of Mikhail Lesin
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2016 1:58 AM CST
Autopsy: Putin Aide's Death in DC Hotel Wasn't Natural
Mikhail Lesin was found dead in this upscale DC hotel on Nov. 5, 2015.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Russia-watchers—or readers of spy novels—may be unsurprised to learn that the sudden death of a former Vladimir Putin aide in a Washington, DC, hotel last fall now appears a little fishy. Mikhail Lesin, the former Kremlin press minister who helped set up Russia Today and spent more than a year as chief of the powerful Gazprom-Media group, was found dead in the Dupont Circle Hotel in November. Russian media reported at the time that the 57-year-old heavy smoker and drinker had died from a heart attack, but the DC medical examiner's office announced on Thursday that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head, the Guardian reports.

Police haven't said whether they suspect a crime was committed, though it's not clear what else would explain the blunt force injuries to the Russian's head, neck, torso, arms, and legs. Moscow says it's seeking "clarification from Washington and relevant official data on the progress of the investigation," reports the BBC, which notes that some US lawmakers had been calling for an investigation into Lesin and the vast fortune he amassed while working as a civil servant in Russia, including $28 million in Los Angeles real estate. (More Russia stories.)

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