Police File Raises New Questions in Russian's Death in DC

RT founder's death was ruled an accident in 2016
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2017 11:02 AM CST
Police File Raises New Questions in Russian's Death in DC
Mikhail Lesin, a former aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin who helped found the English-language news service RT, was found dead in an upscale Washington hotel room in Washington DC in 2015.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

A senior Russian political aide was found dead in a Washington DC hotel room in 2015 with—according to the coroner—blunt force trauma to his head, neck, torso, and more. After an 11-month investigation, a federal prosecutor determined Mikhail Lesin died after falling down drunk multiple times and closed the case. Now a 58-page police report is shedding new light—and raising more questions—on the death of Vladimir Putin's media czar. The report, which was released this week by DC's Metropolitan Police Department, includes a timeline from the hotel where Lesin was staying, the Washington Post reports. Apparently the founder of RT had been drinking heavily for his three-day stay, taking bottles of liquor from the hotel bar, and walking through the hotel in his underwear. He also had a visible injury to his eye on the night before his body was found.

Among the details redacted from the report: Lesin's autopsy. It remains unclear how his death was ruled an accident. The report also fails to mention anything about blunt force trauma or Lesin falling down, BuzzFeed reports. And a disc containing security footage from the hallway outside his room in the hours before his death was apparently defective. Police have not said whether they were ever able to view the footage. BuzzFeed had previously reported on three FBI agents and an intelligence officer who said Lesin was beaten to death the night before he was going to be interviewed by the Department of Justice about the workings of RT. There are also reports Lesin had angered powerful figures in Russia. And US intelligence is concerned that what it believes were Russian hit jobs in the UK may have crossed the pond with Lesin's death. (Read more Russia stories.)

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