A Wealthy Russian who was credited with creating Vladimir Putin's powerful domestic propaganda machine was found dead yesterday (Saturday) in his hotel room in Washington.
Mikhail Lesin, the Kremlin's former head of media affairs who has been accused of curtailing the country's press freedoms, was found at the Dupont Circle Hotel.
His family told Russian state media that the 57-year-old had suffered a heart attack, while police said they were still investigating.
The multi-millionaire made his fortune in advertising before becoming a senior state television executive under former president Boris Yeltsin. Mr Lesin helped to set up state-funded English-language news channel Russia Today.
As Mr Putin's press minister in the early 2000s, Mr Lesin was instrumental in the "taming" of NTV, a once-critical television station owned by the oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky.
He later became head of Gazprom media, an arm of the state oil and gas giant that controls several major broadcasters.
It is unclear what he was doing in Washington, but his daughter works in the city for Russia Today.
He also reportedly amassed a property portfolio worth millions in the US and Europe, including a pounds 19?million property in Los Angeles.
American police have said an investigation was ongoing, but at this stage there is no suggestion that the death was suspicious. Several people who had met Lesin confirmed that he was believed to have been in ill-health.
Following his death on Thursday night, tributes poured in, with Mr
Putin praising "the enormous contribution made by Mikhail Lesin to the formation of modern Russian media".