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Former Russian press minister's death in US hotel 'accident'

Mikhail Lesin was found dead at the Dupont Circle Hotel last year on November 5. In photo: Minister of Press, Television and Radio Broadcasting, Mikhail Lesin (R) on 28 August 2000. Photograph: (AFP)

Washington, United States Oct 28, 2016, 10.10 PM (IST)

The death of Russian president Vladimir Putin's former aide was an 'accident' and occurred after days of heavy drinking, US prosecutors said on Friday.

Mikhail Lesin was found dead at the Dupont Circle Hotel last year on November 5. The death of the 57-year-old former press minister prompted conspiracy theories in Russia.

But following a nearly yearlong probe, "the Chief Medical Examiner of the District of Columbia has amended Mr Lesin's manner of death from 'undetermined' to 'accident' with acute ethanol intoxication as a contributory cause of death," prosecutors said in a statement, AFP reported.

The statement also said that the investigation is now closed.

Initial US probes appeared to suggest that he was killed. Lesin's family, however, had said he died of a heart attack, Russian state media reported.

Lesin entered his hotel room for the final time at 10.48 am on November 4, the US attorney's office in Washington said, reported AFP. He was found dead the next day "after days of excessive consumption of alcohol."

"Based on the evidence, including video footage and witness interviews, Mr Lesin... sustained the injuries that resulted in his death while alone in his hotel room," it added.

"After review of the video footage and new evidence developed from the investigation, the Chief Medical Examiner has determined that Lesin died as a result of blunt force injuries to his head, with contributing causes being blunt force injuries of the neck, torso, upper extremities and lower extremities, which were induced by falls, with acute ethanol intoxication."

Lesin was Russia's minister of press, television and radio between 1999 and 2004, and later served as a Kremlin aide.

(With inputs from AFP)

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