So why did Lesin, who was 57, tempt fate by entering the United States this past November?
The purpose of his visit was never made clear. But he was staying in a mid-range hotel on Washington’s DuPont Circle. While not shabby, it’s doesn’t seem the kind of place that attracts people who buy multimillion-dollar estates. It does, though, offer a comparatively low per-night rate, perhaps more in line with U.S. government budgets, and is known to host foreign government officials and visitors on exchange programs. It’s also located a short drive from FBI and Justice Department headquarters.
These are the broad strokes of Lesin’s case. And in some foreign policy circles in Washington—as well as in Russian media—they have fueled speculation that Lesin was murdered after coming to Washington to cut a deal with the FBI.
Lesin certainly would have had a lot to say about Putin’s inner circle—he worked with, and reportedly owed money to, some of the most powerful men in Russian media and finance. And he would have had a powerful incentive to cooperate with U.S. authorities, namely hanging onto his several mansions in Los Angeles, which potentially could have been seized. At least two of the homes are known to be occupied, respectively, by his daughter and his son, a Hollywood film producer whose star is on the rise.