A onetime senior Russian political aide who died in 2015 in a Dupont Circle hotel room had been drinking heavily over the three days before his body was found, including consuming beer, wine and liquor from small bottles kept in the hotel’s mini-fridge and larger bottles of tequila and Johnnie Walker whiskey.
The copious amount of alcohol purchased and consumed is listed in a 58-page D.C. police report on the investigation into the Nov. 5, 2015, death of Mikhail Y. Lesin, obtained by The Washington Post on Monday in a Freedom of Information Act request.
Much of the report is blacked out, including key pages that detail the autopsy, thus leaving unanswered how authorities reached their conclusion that the 57-year-old died accidentally after falling and hitting his head in his hotel room. The death had sparked conspiracy theories because of Lesin’s links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The report says Lesin had been drinking in excess from nearly the time he checked in to the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown on Nov. 2, 2015, until he was found dead three days later in a ninth-floor penthouse room at the Dupont Circle Hotel.
Extensive timelines from both hotels show that Lesin was confronted numerous times by security staff as he wandered drunk through the halls, sometimes wearing only a blue shirt and black underwear. Hotel officials once called the Secret Service, who advised a guard be posted at his door. He twice walked behind a hotel bar and grabbed bottles of liquor after he was cut off, the report says.
Lesin was a former advertising executive who later created the Kremlin’s English-language Russia Today television network. He was an architect of the Kremlin-dominated media enterprise under Putin and served as minister of press from 2000 to 2004. Lesin was in Washington to attend a $10,000-a-table fundraiser organized by the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute, whose attendees included the chief executive of Russia’s largest private bank — although Lesin failed to show up for the event. He had reportedly angered powerful media interests in Russia.
His death fueled widespread speculation and international intrigue — and doubts that his demise was accidental.
The D.C. medical examiner’s office complicated the narrative by first ruling Lesin’s death undetermined while also noting that he had suffered blunt-force injuries to his head and elsewhere on his body. That was later amended to the cause of death being ruled accidental. His family said in earlier statements that they thought he died of a heart attack.
Calls to Lesin’s family in the United States were not returned on Monday. D.C. police did not respond to interview requests.
The reports say Lesin checked into the Four Seasons on the afternoon of Nov. 2. He took a Coke and a small airline size bottle of vodka from the minibar five minutes after he entered the room, according to the report.
The report says Lesin met a friend at the hotel at 1:45 p.m. on Nov 3, though it’s not clear where the friend went. Seven minutes later, a security guard went to Lesin’s room and found Lesin “passed out on the bed.” Four hours later, Lesin took more alcohol from the minibar. The report does not mention the friend again, although it does say that after the guard visited, “both returned to the lobby” and “[redacted] stays at the hotel.” Numerous interviews with witnesses are blacked out.
On the night of Nov. 3, the report says, a security guard noticed a contusion under Lesin’s left eye. It does not say how he was injured.
Through the night and into the morning of Nov. 4, police said, Lesin left his room and returned, often escorted by security. Once, a security guard told police that he noticed a contusion under Lesin’s left eye. Twice Lesin left the hotel grounds and returned with alcohol, once a bottle of Johnnie Walker whiskey.
He left the Four Seasons about 5 a.m. on Nov. 4 and checked into the hotel at Dupont Circle at 5:30 a.m. He then returned to the Four Seasons, where for several more hours he went back and forth to his room, once with more alcohol from a convenience store. The hotel locked him out of his room and he took a taxi back to Dupont Circle.
The report notes that video surveillance from him entering that hotel shows “the only visible injury is to the left eye” and that it appeared Lesin was not in pain, although a desk clerk noted he “appeared to be very intoxicated.”
About 2 p.m. that day, a security guard visited Lesin’s room and described him as “stumbling drunk.” Another guard returned at 2:23 p.m. and asked Lesin whether he needed medical help. The report says Lesin put his arm on the guard’s shoulder and said, “Nyet.” At 8:16 p.m., another guard went into his room and found Lesin facedown on the floor, but breathing. The guard couldn’t wake him.
At 11:30 a.m. Nov. 5, police said a security guard again went to his room, this time to remind him to check out. The report says Lesin was still facedown on the floor. The guard called 911. Lesin was pronounced dead.
Police reported finding numerous empty bottles of liquor from the minibar, and also three full bottles of Guinness beer and two unopened bottles of red wine.