Ex-Putin adviser who died under mysterious circumstances in US had broken neck bone, report says

A former key adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin suffered a broken bone in his neck "at or near the time of his death" in a Washington, D.C. hotel room in November 2015, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported Saturday.

RFE acquired the 149-page report by the District's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner into the death of 57-year-old Mikhail Lesin after filing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit nearly two years ago.

The report said that Lesin's hyoid bone, which is located below the jaw bone and above the larynx was completely fractured, an injury that an unidentified official says in the report is "commonly associated with hanging or manual strangulation."

The Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington, where Lesin was found dead.

The Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington, where Lesin was found dead. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

However, the report noted that the fracture did not constitute clear evidence of foul play since the bone also could have been damaged during the autopsy.

Lesin's death was officially ruled an accident caused by blunt force trauma after investigators said he fell repeatedly in his room while intoxicated. However, circumstantial evidence -- including a gap in security video footage for the hours after Lesin was last seen alive, as well as a heavily redacted police report -- has fueled speculation that the former Kremlin official was killed.

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The report also revealed that an official from the D.C. medical examiner's office was subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury investigating Lesin's death in March 2016. The final report into Lesin's death was released seven months later, in October 2016, by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia and Washington D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department.

Lesin had amassed a fortune through a company he set up in the 1990s to sell television advertising. He then spent years as Putin's media czar, helping bring national television under Kremlin control during Putin's rise to power. Later he founded the global news network Russia Today, now known as RT. But, he abruptly resigned in December 2014 and was believed by some Moscow-watchers to have fallen out of favor with the Putin government.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.