Mikhail Lesin, Former Russian Press Minister and Media Executive, Found Dead in U.S. Hotel

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Moscow

The man who was the inspiration for Kremlin's international TV service Russia Today (RT) reportedly died of a heart attack.

A former Russian press minister and, until a year ago, head of Gazprom Media, the country's largest TV and media company, Mikhail Lesin, was found dead in a hotel room in Washington DC. He was 57.

The body of Lesin was found in a room at the four-star Dupont Circle Hotel Thursday morning, according to reports by Russia Today (RT) and Russian wire agencies. His death, according to family sources and the Russian embassy in Washington, was caused by a heart attack.

No signs of foul play were found, although DC police have opened a formal “death investigation,” lieutenant Sean Conboy told the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper.

Russian president Vladimir Putin personally expressed his condolences to Lesin's family on Saturday, a Kremlin spokesman said.

"The president has a high appreciation for Mikhail Lesin's massive contribution to the creation of modern mass media," added the spokesman.

Lesin, who headed Gazprom Media from 2013 until early this year, is credited with having inspired the creation of RT. In 2007 he said: "It's been a long time since I was scared by the word propaganda. We need to promote Russia internationally. Otherwise, we'd just look like roaring bears on the prowl."

The media executive is understood to have quit Gazprom Media after becoming frustrated with the politics of running a state-owned company and had been spending much of his time in the U.S. where his role in a media company deal involving his son, Anton Lessine, earlier this year prompted calls by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) for an investigation into possible financial malpractice.

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