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MEDIA EXCLUSIVE:  Newly Obtained Lesin Files Reveal Neck Bone Fracture

Former Russian Media Minister Mikhail Lesin (photo: April 2006)
Former Russian Media Minister Mikhail Lesin (photo: April 2006)

WASHINGTON -- After a two-year court case, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has won a Freedom Of Information Act lawsuit granting it exclusive access to medical records in the 2015 death of Mikhail Lesin, the creator of Russia Today.

Among numerous revelations, the 149-page file, released to RFE/RL on March 15 by the Washington, D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, discloses for the first time that Lesin’s neck bone was completely fractured “at or near the time” of his death. The documents also reveal that the FBI had considered taking over the case in early 2016.

The official autopsy had ruled Lesin’s death in a Dupont Circle hotel accidental, caused by blunt-force injuries amid excessive alcohol consumption.

As Russian President Vladimir Putin's press minister in the early 2000s, Lesin was instrumental in bringing the country's national TV channels under government control, and launching Russia Today, the global Kremlin mouthpiece known today as RT. He lost favor with the Kremlin sometime around 2012, and largely fell out of the public eye.

Lesin's links with Russia's ruling elite, the circumstances of his demise, and a string of suspicious deaths of Russians across the globe have fueled persistent speculation that he may have been killed.

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RFE/RL relies on its networks of local reporters to provide accurate news and information to 34 million people in 26 languages and 22 countries where media freedom is restricted, or where a professional press has not fully developed. Its videos were viewed over 2.6 billion times on Facebook and YouTube in FY2018. RFE/RL is an editorially independent media company funded by a grant from the U.S. Congress through the U.S. Agency for Global Media.


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