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Putin's Multi-Millionaire Media Mogul Dies Of Mysterious "Heart Attack" In Luxury DC Hotel

Dear Sergei Lavrov and Maria Zakharova: you may want to avoid staying at The Dupont Circle in DC for the foreseeable future even though the following images may seem quite inviting...

Yesterday evening, a variety of mainstream wires reported that Mikhail Lesin, a close ally of The Kremlin and the man credited with “inspiring” the creation of Russia Today, was found dead on an “upper floor” in the hotel. Lesin was Russia’s Minister of Press, Television and Radio from 1999 to 2004 and also served as Putin’s media adviser. In 2013 he assumed a role as an executive at Gazprom-Media. 

Apparently, no one knows why Lesin was in Washington, and as of Friday evening, authorities weren't ready to reveal the identity of the 57-year old Russian national they found dead at the DuPont. But officials in Washington and Moscow confirmed that the deceased was indeed Lesin and Vladimir Putin "expressed his sincerest condolences", RT says. From The Kremlin: 

"The president has a high appreciation for Mikhail Lesin’s massive contribution to the creation of modern Russian mass media. 

 

In the West, Lesin is most widely known for his role in conceiving Russia Today (now RT), a state-run English-language television network which offers an alternative, non-Western view of global events by encouraging viewers to 'Question More'. Since its launch in 2005, RT has expanded across continents, broadcasting in multiple languages, and successfully presenting the Russian point of view on world events, something even its harshest critics have admitted. Lesin's role in RT's creation is arguably his greatest accomplishment."

As of now, Lesin's death has been written off to the ubiquitious unexplained "heart attack." Here's WaPo:

Lesin was the former executive of Gazprom-Media, the state-run holding company that controls much of the Russian press. RIA Novosti, a state news agency, quoted a family member confirming the death and saying it was from a heart attack.

 

Russia Today, without providing a source, suggested that Lesin had been suffering from a prolonged illness.

We're no doctors, and we're also not trying to suggest that Lesin wasn't sick, but what's particularly odd about the mainstream media's coverage of this story (and by the way, this applies to the Russian media as well), is that no one seems to think it's strange that a Russian media mogul died in a DC hotel room from an apparent "heart attack" just as relations between Washington and Moscow have deteriorated to a post-Cold War low and just as sites like RT and Sputnik are becoming increasingly prominent among Western readers amid The Kremlin's air campaign in Syria. And to top it all off, no one knows why Lesin was in the city in the first place. Nope, nothing strange about any of that. 

It's also worth noting that US lawmakers have called for an investigation into Lesin's fortune. Via ABC

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), called on the Justice Department to launch an investigation into Lesin over allegations of corruption and money laundering.

 

In a letter to then-Attorney General Eric Holder, Wicker said Lesin had “acquired multi-million dollar assets” in Europe and the United States “during his tenure as a civil servant,” including multiple residences in Los Angeles worth $28 million.

 

“That a Russian public servant could have amassed the considerable funds required to acquire and maintain these assets in Europe and the United States raises serious questions,” Wicker wrote.

Here's the actual letter:

Les in Letter

Consider that, and then consider the following comments from John Kerry with regard to RT (note that America's top diplomat hilariously accuses foreign media of "distorting what is happening or not happening"): 

Here's how RT's Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan responded at the time:

???????????, ??? ???????????? ????? ? ??? ??????? ? ???????????? ??? ??? ?????? ????? ?????? ?? ? ??? ??????????, ????? ?????? ??????????.

— ????????? ???????? (@M_Simonyan)

Translation: "Surprisingly, Secretary Kerry at this difficult and humiliating [time] for his homeland no longer worr[ies] about anything except our television channel."

And further: “We are planning to write an official request to the State Department for concrete examples of when RT has distorted facts. It’s unfortunate that the head of the State Department knows so little about what’s going on in Ukraine at the moment."

Here's Simonyan on Lesin (from Friday): 

????? ????. ???????? ??????????. ??????????, ???, ??? ???? ? ?? ????, ??????????? ???????. ??? ??? ????????? ?????????? ???????..........

— ????????? ???????? (@M_Simonyan)

So in any event, Lesin was not a man that was particularly popular inside the Beltway where he inexplicably was staying last week. 

Still, there are all kinds of questions here and determining what actually "is or is not happening" (to quote John Kerry) is difficult. Consider the follwoing from Sputnik

Between 2004 and 2009, Lesin served as an advisor to the Russian president, charged with overseeing the development of media and information technology, including the creation of Russia Today. Lesin's resignation in 2009 was unexpected, and widely rumored to have been the result of a perceived conflict of interest between his activities in business and his work as a civil servant.

 

Lesin first came to prominence in the media industry in the early 1990s. He created the advertising agency 'Video International', which would go on to become a multi-billion dollar firm, and the largest player in the Russian advertising field by the end of the 1990s, a position it has maintained to this day. Coming onto the scene of the Russian media market during Russia's difficult post-Soviet transition, Lesin and his partners effectively had to figure out from scratch how the advertising field, which never existed in the Soviet Union, actually worked.

 

Before becoming press minister in 1999, Lesin briefly headed the Kremlin's public relations office (1996-1997), and serve as vice-president of the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (1997-1999) as it transformed into a major media holding. He was believed to have been given the position for his loyalty to president Yeltsin during the 1996 re-election campaign, during which he created the iconic 'Vote with your heart' and 'I believe, I love, I hope' campaign advertising commercials.

 

During his tenure as press minister, Lesin would participate in one of the loudest media scandals of the early 2000s –the transfer of oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky's media holding company Media Most's assets to state energy giant Gazprom.

 

To be sure, Lesin was not without his sins, and was involved in the dirty media games of late 90s Russia. As RIA Novosti recalled, the media guru was rumored to have played a key role in the creation of a secret tape compromising former Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov. Hidden camera video of the prosecutor general, who was known as a bitter adversary of Yeltsin, and who was conducting an aggressive investigation into several large cases of government corruption, was broadcast on federal television, featuring Skuratov rolling around in bed with two young women, who turned out to be prostitutes. Ultimately, the scandal resulted in the prosecutor general's resignation.

And then there's this, from last December (again, via Sputnik): 

The head of Russia’s Gazprom-Media holding, Mikhail Lesin, has officially turned in his application to resign, Gazprom’s press service said Friday.

 

“Mikhail Lesin has turned in a request to remove him from the post of Gazprom-Media chairman citing family issues. This request will be considered at the next Gazprom-Media board meeting,” the press service said.

At the time, Forbes Russia said "individuals" claimed that the decision was made personally by President Vladimir Putin. For the sake of brevity we won't go into the entire story, but we encourage readers to do their own research on Ekho Moskvy and Lesin.

The takeaway here is that Lesin was most assuredly a "somebody", and when a "somebody" dies in a DC hotel room of a mysterious "heart attack" and no one knows what that "somebody" was doing in DC in the first place, you may want to start asking questions with regard to the official narrative regardless of where that narrative originates.

Of course we could be wrong.

But in honor of RT, we'll simply close by saying that it never hurts to "question more."