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Putin associate, media executive Mikhail Lesin found dead in Washington hotel room

WASHINGTON – Mikhail Lesin, a former aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin who helped found the English-language news service Russia Today, has been found dead in an upscale Washington hotel room.

The Russian Embassy in Washington on Friday confirmed the death of Lesin, whose body was discovered Thursday. Russia Today reported on its website that Lesin, 57, died of a heart attack.

Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Officer Sean Hickman said that officers were called to the Dupont Circle Hotel about 11:30 a.m. Thursday and found a man dead. Russian Embassy spokesman Yury Melnik confirmed that the man was Lesin.

Russia Today, commonly known as RT, credited Lesin with “inspiring the creation” of the agency.

Lesin served as Russian press minister from 1999 to 2004 and presidential media adviser from 2004 to 2009, RT said. He then became a senior executive at Gazprom-Media, Russia’s largest media holding company.