FBI agents and one U.S. intelligence officer are reportedly claiming that the death of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s media czar in Washington, D.C. in 2015 was no accident, contradicting official U.S. government claims.
Putin’s media czar, Mikhail Lesin, was found in his hotel in Dupont Circle with injuries to his head, neck and body on November 5, 2015, but in 2016 a federal prosecutor stated that an investigation determined Lesin’s death was an accident, likely caused by drunken falls over several days. Lesin founded Russia Today, a state-funded media behemoth, later to be renamed RT.
But two FBI agents who spoke to BuzzFeed News said that Lesin was actually murdered.
“Lesin was beaten to death,” an FBI agent said. “I would implore you to say as much. There seems to be an effort here to cover up that fact for reasons I can’t get into.”
“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,” the agent added. “Everyone thinks he was whacked and that Putin or the Kremlin were behind it.”
These FBI agents revealed that the Department of Justice had paid for the hotel Lesin was staying in because officials wanted to understand the Russian news network RT operated. An intelligence official told BuzzFeed News that Lesin essentially was a defector, trading secrets in exchange for protection after he had fallen out of Putin’s good graces.
“He contacted the Justice Department and the FBI through a third party,” the intelligence official said. “He was worried about his kids and their safety so he wanted to cooperate.”
Lesin died the evening before the interview.
Government agencies involved in the investigation are maintaining the death was an accident.
BuzzFeed News has meanwhile filed a lawsuit to obtain the FBI’s investigative file on the matter.
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