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Vladimir Putin’s former aide Mikhail Lesin has been found dead in a hotel in Washington DC, Russian state media say.

Mikhail Lesin, 57, Russia’s former press minister and a one-time head of the powerful Gazprom-Media Holding group, died on November 5, the RIA-Novosti and Tass news agencies report.

Russian media, quoting Mikhail Lesin’s family, said he suffered a heart attack.

According to the Washington Post, Mikhail Lesin’s body was found in a room at the Dupont Circle hotel.

Police are investigating the Russian’s death.

In 2014, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker called for an investigation into Mikhail Lesin, saying his fortune “raises serious questions”.

In a letter to the US Department of Justice, Senator Roger Wicker said Mikhail Lesin bought a $28 million property in Los Angeles for his family after finishing work as a civil servant.Vladimir Putin and Mikhail Lesin

Roger Wicker asked how a former civil servant would have been able to buy and maintain expensive property, and expressed concern their purchase may have involved people and groups on a US sanctions list.

Mikhail Lesin was for a long time considered one of the most influential figures in the Russian media market and in the corridors of power.

He worked as an aide to the Russian presidency between 2004 and 2009, when he helped advise on the creation of the news channel Russia Today.

President Vladimir Putin hailed “the enormous contribution made by Mikhail Lesin to the formation of modern Russian media”, according to Tass.

In 2014, Mikhail Lesin was accused of trying to force a radio station in which he was a shareholder to cut an interview with opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

Roger Wicker’s letter said Mikhail Lesin “led the Kremlin’s effort to censor Russia’s independent television outlets”.

Mikhail Lesin, who resigned from Gazprom-Media in 2014, leaves a wife, son and daughter, the Ria-Novosti agency said.


Russia Today US anchor Liz Wahl quitted on the air Wednesday afternoon, saying the Kremlin-funded network “whitewashes” the actions of President Vladimir Putin.

Liz Wahl, who works out of the network’s Washington, D.C. offices, began her televised resignation by referencing co-worker Abby Martin, who made headlines by denouncing Russian intervention in Ukraine earlier this week.

“Indeed as a reporter on this network I face many moral and ethical challenges,” Liz Wahl said.

Liz Wahl said that her grandparents came to the US during the Hungarian Revolution to escape Soviet forces, and she feels lucky to have grown up in America.

“I’m the daughter of a veteran,” she continued.

Liz Wahl quitted on the air, saying the RT network whitewashes the actions of President Vladimir Putin

Liz Wahl quitted on the air, saying the RT network whitewashes the actions of President Vladimir Putin

“My partner is a physician at a military base where he sees every day the first-hand accounts of the ultimate prices that people pay for this country.

“That is why personally I cannot be part of [a] network funded by the Russian government that whitewashes the actions of Putin.

“I’m proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth. And that is why after this newscast I am resigning.”

A day before she quit, Liz Wahl had tweeted sympathy for Abby Martin, who was offered a posting in Crimea after she criticized Russia on the air.

Abby Martin still has a job.

RT said in a statement to Buzzfeed that Liz Wahl was trying to become an “overnight sensation” like Abby Martin.

“When a journalist disagrees with the editorial position of his or her organization, the usual course of action is to address those grievances with the editor, and, if they cannot be resolved, to quit like a professional,” the statement said.

“But when someone makes a big public show of a personal decision, it is nothing more than a self-promotional stunt.”

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Vladimir Putin has abolished Russia’s state-owned news agency RIA Novosti.

In a surprise decree published on the Kremlin’s website on Monday, President Vladimir Putin announced it would be replaced by a news agency called Russia Today.

Russia Today will be headed by journalist and keen Kremlin supporter Dmitry Kiselev.

The state-owned Voice of Russia radio station has also been closed. The decree was effective immediately.

Sergey Ivanov, the head of the Kremlin administration, has told journalists in Moscow that the news agency is being restructured in order to make it more economical while increasing its reach, Interfax reports.

He was quoted as saying that the agency, which is being dissolved and reorganized as International News Agency Russia Today, needs to make “more rational use of public money” and that it has to be more effective.

Vladimir Putin announced Russia's state-owned news agency RIA Novosti would be replaced by Russia Today

Vladimir Putin announced Russia’s state-owned news agency RIA Novosti would be replaced by Russia Today

“Russia pursues an independent policy and robustly defends its national interests. It’s not easy to explain that to the world, but we can and must do this,” Sergey Ivanov said.

During Vladimir Putin’s time as Russia’s leader, RIA Novosti has tried hard to produce balanced coverage for Russian and international audiences.

Although state-owned, RIA Novosti has reflected the views of the opposition and covered difficult topics for the Kremlin.

Dmitry Kiselev is known for his ultra-conservative views, including recently saying that gay people should be banned from giving blood, and that their hearts should be burnt rather than used in transplants.

Reporting on its own demise, RIA Novosti noted in its news report that “the move is the latest in a series of shifts in Russia’s news landscape, which appear to point toward a tightening of state control in the already heavily regulated media sector”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted he will still be able to work with Mitt Romney if he’s elected U.S. president despite him calling Russia the “number one geopolitical foe”.

Vladimir Putin made the remark about Mitt Romney during yesterday interview on the Kremlin-funded Russia Today TV channel.

The president said: “We’ll work with whichever president is elected by the American people. But our effort will be only as efficient as our partners will want it to be.”

Vladimir Putin expressed concern about how a Romney presidency would affect the two countries’ long-running dispute over U.S.-led NATO plans to place elements of a missile-defense system in Europe. Russia contends the system could undermine its own defenses.

Vladimir Putin expressed concern about how a Romney presidency would affect their countries long-running dispute over NATO plans

Vladimir Putin expressed concern about how a Romney presidency would affect their countries long-running dispute over NATO plans

He added that if Mitt Romney is elected “the missile defense system will definitely be directed against Russia”.

The wide-ranging interview showed Vladimir Putin’s acerbic and combative side, particularly on the issue of the two-year prison sentence imposed last month on three members of the provocateur band Pussy Riot for their “punk prayer” prank in Moscow’s main cathedral entreating the Virgin Mary to save Russia from Putin.

Their conviction brought widespread criticism of Russia for stifling opposition and free speech.

Vladimir Putin briefly sparred with the English-speaking interviewer over how the band’s name could be translated into Russian, declaring: “I think you wouldn’t do it because it sounds too obscene, even in English.”

He also vigorously defended Russia’s stance on the escalating civil war in Syria.

Russia has come under strong criticism in the West for blocking U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed at pressuring Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, which is fighting an increasingly vigorous armed opposition.

Activists now put the death toll from the uprising that began in March 2011 at between 23,000 and 26,000.

Russia has said its policy is not aimed at supporting Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin in the interview gave strong indication that Moscow may have written off the Syrian leader.

“We realize that this country needs a change,” he said.

“But this doesn’t mean that change should come with bloodshed.”

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