Death of a patriot

The only thing to be regretted about the demise of this man, at 57, is that it happened at a posh D.C. hotel rather than at a high-security federal facility or, better yet, a Guantánamo.

Mikhail Lesin played a leading part in the destruction of NTV, Russia’s only private, independent, nationwide TV channel. He was not above blacklisting independent reporters. In 2014, he launched an attack on the independent radio station Ekho Moskvy but shortly resigned his position at Gazprom-Media and left for the US. Lesin settled in Los Angeles, where he owned real estate worth at least $28 million, suspected to be financed with illegal gains.

Few Russian journalists had anything good to say about the deceased: rather, the death of Putin’s media bulldog, or bulldozer, triggered a lively Facebook discussion whether aut bene, aut nihil should equally apply to all cadavers, no matter how excellent at villainy.

In the midst of the discussion, a new question arose: what was the LA-based retiree doing in Washington, DC? Meeting pro-Kremlin politicians? Recruiting lobbyists? Negotiating the terms of his defection? Conspiracy theories sprung up like weeds: the man knew too much about the workings of the Kremlin’s media empire. The cause of his death remains undetermined.

On a side note, the late “mogul” had a son, known as Anton Lessine, currently a movie producer living in California, married to a Swiss woman. He’s being sued by his children’s former nanny for religious discrimination and failure to pay her wages in full.


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