A former press representative of Russian President Vladimir Putin died in a Washington hotel room in November because of blunt force trauma to the head, the D.C. medical examiner’s office said Thursday. Mikhail Lesin, 59, suffered injuries to his neck and torso, as well as upper and lower extremities. The manner of death is undetermined, and it was unclear why he was in the U.S. capital, the Washington Post reported.
Dustin Sternbeck, a Washington Police Department representative, told reporters the investigation remains open. He would not say whether a crime may have been committed. “We’re not willing to close off anything at this point,” Sternbeck said.
Lesin was a press minister between 1999 and 2004 and a presidential adviser from 2004 to 2009. He served as an executive of Gazprom-Media, a Russian holding company that controls several popular television channels and media outlets, until his resignation in January 2015. At the time, he cited family reasons. He is the founder of the international broadcaster RT, aka Russia Today.
Lesin’s body was found in a room at the Dupont Circle Hotel Nov. 5. Family members told Russian news media he had suffered a heart attack.
Russia has blamed the U.S. for not moving faster on the investigation. “The Russian Embassy to the United States has repeatedly sent through diplomatic channels inquiries about the progress of investigation into the death of Russia’s citizen. The U.S. side has not provided to us any substantive information,” Russian Foreign Ministry representative Maria Zakharova wrote on her Facebook page after the medical examiner’s report was made public. “We are awaiting the related clarifications from Washington and the official data on the progress of the investigation. If the information published by the media today is confirmed, then Russia’s competent authorities will send a request to the U.S. side for international legal assistance.”