- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 7, 2015

A prominent Russian millionaire with high-level ties to President Vladimir Putin was found dead Thursday inside a D.C. hotel, according to U.S. and Russian news sources.

Mikhail Lesin, 57, the former head of media affairs for the Russian government who’s been accused of curtailing the country’s press freedoms, had been staying at the Hotel Dupont where he was foundThursday.

The Russian embassy in Washington confirmed Lesin’s death, The Associated Press reported.

Russia Today reported on its website that Lesin died of a heart attack, and the state news agency RIA-Novosti cites a family member giving the same cause of death.

Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department said the incident was under investigation.

It is unclear why Lesin was in the U.S.

Following the news of Lesin’s death, Mr. Putin expressed condolences to his family members.

“The president has a high appreciation for Mikhail Lesin’s massive contribution to the creation of modern Russian mass media,” the Kremlin’s press service said, RT reported.

Lesin established English-language news service Russia Today, now known as RT News, saying Russia “must do propaganda for ourselves, otherwise we’ll always look like bears.”

He served as Russian press minister from 1999 to 2004 and presidential media adviser from 2004 to 2009, RT reported. He then became a senior executive at Gazprom-Media, Russia’s largest media holding company.

Mr. Putin on Saturday said Lesin made great contributions to “modern Russian mass media,” Russian news agencies reported, according to AP.



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