Mikhail Lesin

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Person.png Mikhail Lesin  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Mikhail Lesin.jpg
BornJuly 11, 1958
DiedNovember 5, 2015 (Age 57)
Cause of death
"Fell multiple times and died"
Victim ofmurder
Credited with creating US enemy no.1 Russia Today; died mysteriously in Washington DC, officially ruled an accident by "a series of drunken falls."

Mikhail Lesin was an associate of Vladimir Putin and credited with creating Russia Today. On November 5, 2015, he was found dead in a Washington DC hotel room, a death officially ruled an accident by "a series of drunken falls."[1][2]

The case includes a curious postmortem analysis (or red herring) by Christopher Steele, the creator of the 'Trump pee tapes'.

Early History

In the early 1990s, Lesin set up Video International, which became a multibillion-dollar advertising agency with exclusive advertising rights on NTV and in 2015 was still one of Russia's largest agencies.[3][4][5] In 1994, he left the company, and from 1993 to 1996 was Deputy General Director and General Director of the news-agencyRIA Novosti.

At this position in Novosti, he was pivotal in the Russian parliamentary elections of 1995 and especially the re-election campaign of Yeltsin in the 1996 Russian presidential elections. From September 1996 until February 1997, he was head of Public Relations for the President of Russia under Yeltsin. Incidentally, in the late 1990s, the US spent large sums on covert PR-campaigns to keep Yeltsin in power.

In 2005, he founded Russia Today, which he once described as a news channel to counter Western perspectives put out by the likes of CNN and the BBC.[6]

Lawfare Blackmail

In the year before his death, Lesin was the target of a lawfare blackmail by the US government. It is common US practice to selectively use the justice system and threaten draconian punishments to attempt to "turn" targets into informers.

The attempt started in 2014 with Senator Roger Wicker (Republican of Mississippi) accusing Lesin of leading the Kremlin's efforts to censor Russia's independent television.[7] Wicker called on the Justice Department to launch an investigation into Lesin and his immediate family over allegations of corruption and money laundering.[8] In a 29 July 2014 letter to then-Attorney General Eric Holder, Wicker wrote Lesin and his immediate family 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.[9]

On 3 December 2014, Assistant Attorney General Peter J. Kadzik replied to Senator Wicker's letter by stating the Justice Department's Criminal Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have been referred for appropriate disposition of Lesin and "similarly situated Russian individuals and companies with assets in the United States that may be in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Anti-Money Laundering Statutes."[10]

There are other indications of this attempt to turn him. According to Buzzfeed, based on MI6 officer Christopher Steele, "the death occurred just prior to a scheduled meeting between Lesin and U.S. Justice Department officials to discuss the inner workings of RT."[11] But since both Buzzfeed and Steele are close to Western intelligence services, this info, combined with the curiously lax investigation, might possibly be an attempt at creating a red herring. (see below)


At the time of his death, Russia Today experienced a massive defamation campaign in the US press, and was enemy number 1. The pressure on the police and intelligence services to find some dirt on the channel was enormous.

On November 5, 2015 November 5, 2015 Lesin was found dead in a hotel room in Washington, D.C. The cause of death was initially described as a "heart attack"[12].

A US federal prosecutor announced in late 2016[13] that Lesin died alone in his room due to a series of drunken falls “after days of excessive consumption of alcohol.” His death was ruled an “accident,” with the coroner adding acute alcohol intoxication as a contributing cause of death, and prosecutors closed the case.[14]

In December 2018, DC police released 58 pages of its case file on Lesin’s death. While many parts are blacked out, what was released says nothing about the blunt force injuries that killed Lesin — or even about him falling down, which is how he is supposed to have died.[15]

In 2018, Buzzfeed published a story based on 11 anonymous US intelligence sources who had read "or heard from colleagues" about a report by Christopher Steele, claiming that the real story was that "Lesin fell out with a powerful oligarch close to Putin. Wanting to intimidate Lesin, the oligarch then contracted with Russian state security agents to beat up Lesin The goal was not to kill Lesin, all four sources said Steele wrote, but Lesin died from the attack."[16] The fact that the US intelligence operatives chose to use the fantastically vague "heard about it from colleagues", implies that they place low credibility to the story.

And if this was a suspected murder by Russian intelligence in the middle of the US capitol, it is conspicuous the US investigation wasn't better or higher prioritized.


Regardless of who murdered Lesin, it is noticeable that Buzzfeed several times tried to finger Russian intelligence with vaguely sourced accusations.

In July 2017, an unnamed FBI agent told BuzzFeed, "What I can tell you is that there isn't a single person inside the bureau who believes this guy got drunk, fell down, and died. Everyone thinks he was whacked and that Putin or the Kremlin were behind it." The weapon was said to be a baseball bat.[17]

In 2018, BuzzFeed published details of a leaked report written for the FBI by Christopher Steele (of the 'Trump pee dossier'). The secret report, "unconfirmed by the FBI", alleges that Lesin was bludgeoned to death by men working for an oligarch close to Putin, and that the death occurred just prior to a scheduled meeting between Lesin and U.S. Justice Department officials to discuss the inner workings of RT. According to BuzzFeed, three other people told a similar story to the FBI, independent of the Steele report.[18]

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  1. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-03-11/putins-multi-millionaire-media-mogul-was-murdered-luxury-dc-hotel
  2. http://www.wsj.com/articles/former-putin-aide-died-of-blunt-force-in-washington-in-november-1457652649
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/07/vladimir-putin-ally-found-dead-in-washington-hotel
  4. http://www.rbc.ru/technology_and_media/07/11/2015/563d19b09a79470a75dfb06d
  5. http://www.svoboda.org/content/transcript/24198057.html Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Radio Svoboda
  6. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/jasonleopold/christopher-steele-mikhail-lesin-murder-putin-fbi
  7. https://news.yahoo.com/putin-associate-found-dead-dc-hotel-003132222--abc-news-topstories.html
  8. https://navalny.com/p/3706/
  9. {https://tvrain.ru/news/amerikanskij_senator_poprosil_proverit_imuschestvo_glavy_gazprom_media_lesina_v_ssha-373356/?autoplay=false
  10. https://navalny.com/p/4008/
  11. https://www.buzzfeed.com/jasonleopold/christopher-steele-mikhail-lesin-murder-putin-fbi
  12. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/former-putin-aide-found-dead-in-dupont-circle-hotel/2015/11/06/dd30c012-84e5-11e5-a7ca-6ab6ec20f839_story.html
  13. https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/investigation-death-mikhail-lesin-has-closed
  14. http://www.wsj.com/articles/former-putin-aide-died-of-blunt-force-in-washington-in-november-1457652649
  15. https://www.buzzfeed.com/jasonleopold/police-file-exposes-holes-in-the-investigation-into-us?utm_term=.lnjDeeP1r#.teGPAAyBO
  16. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/jasonleopold/christopher-steele-mikhail-lesin-murder-putin-fbi
  17. https://www.buzzfeed.com/jasonleopold/putins-media-czar-was-murdered-just-before-meeting-feds
  18. https://www.buzzfeed.com/jasonleopold/christopher-steele-mikhail-lesin-murder-putin-fbi