RT Co-Founder Reportedly Found Dead In D.C. Hotel

A Russian media mogul who helped found the Kremlin-run news channel RT was found dead in his hotel in Washington, D.C., according to reports.

Mikhail Lesin, who was formerly the top media affairs minister for the Russian government, died of a “heart stroke,” a family member reported.

Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Officer Sean Hickman said that there had been a death Thursday on the 1500 block of New Hampshire Avenue, where the Dupont Circle Hotel is located. An ABC News article on Lesin’s death reported that the location had been the “Hotel Dupont,” though a hotel by that exact name doesn’t exist in Washington. Hickman said “we have not confirmed the identity of the decedent” and said the death was “currently under investigation.”

“The Embassy does not have any further comment on the demise of Mr. Lesin out of respect to his privacy,” Russian Embassy spokesperson Yury Melnik told BuzzFeed News. “Please refer to the family members or the law enforcement officials.”

“Our consular officials had an opportunity to confirm that the Russian national who passed away in DC is indeed Mikhail Lesin,” a Russian embassy spokesperson told Sputnik, a Russian state media outlet. “Out of respect to the privacy and sensitivity of the matter we are not at liberty to disclose any other information, and would ask you to refer all further requests to his family and the law enforcement officials.”

Lesin was one of the founders of RT, the Russian government-backed international network that was launched in 2005. Lesin was appointed as the head of Russian media conglomerate Gazprom-Media in 2013 and resigned in December 2014.

Also in 2014, Senator Roger Wicker asked the Department of Justice to investigate Lesin for corruption and money laundering. Wicker wrote that Lesin had obtained $28 million worth of property in Los Angeles and that he had also acquired “multimillion dollar assets in Europe” as well, and said that Lesin’s ability to accumulate such wealth “raises serious questions.” In December 2014, the Department of Justice said it was considering Wicker’s request to investigate Lesin.

A spokesperson for RT did not immediately return a request for comment.