World

Former top Putin aide found dead in Washington hotel room

Russian media reports the former aide died of a heart attack

 

A former close aide to Russia President Vladimir Putin was found dead in a Washington hotel room blocks from the White House, according to published reports.

Mikhail Lesin’s body was found in a room at the Dupont Circle hotel Thursday, The Washington Post reported late Friday.

The Russian Embassy in Washington confirmed Lesin’s death, the paper reported.

He had been Putin's press minister for a number of years and was known for leading the Kremlin's effort to censor Russia's independent television outlets, Fox & Friends reported Saturday. 

Last year, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) called for an investigation into Lesin, saying his fortune “raises serious questions,” the BBC reported Friday.

Washington police said only that a body was found before noon in an an upper floor room of the hotel on New Hampshire Ave., the Post reported. It was not known why he was in Washington.

A police spokesman said Friday night that authorities have not yet publicly identified the man and that a cause of death had not yet been determined, according to the paper.

Detectives that investigate apparent natural deaths were assigned to the case, the paper reported. 

Russian state media quoted his family as saying the 57-year-old Lesin died of a heart attack, the BBC reported.

Under Putin, Lesin helped in the creation of the state-run English language news channel Russia Today.

He was also a former executive of the holding company that controls much of the Russian press.

Wicker urged the Justice Department to investigate Lesin in a letter that said the Russian had bought property worth $28 million in Los Angeles after working as a civil servant, the BBC reported.

The senator's letter asked how a former civil servant could afford to purchase expensive property and expressed concern that the purchase may have involved people and groups on a U.S. sactions list.

BBC Russian said for a long time Lesin was “one of the most influential figures in the Russian media market and in the corridors of power.”

Late on Friday, Putin hailed “the enormous contribution made by Mikhail Lesin to the formation of modern Russian media,” the BBC reported, citing Tass.

He is survived by a wife, a son and a daughter.