Sunday, April 03, 2016

Nobody expects the Pooty-Poot

And unlike the iteration of The Spanish Inquisition by Monty Python, The Pooty-Poot is quite deadly as several people who have fallen out of favor with the man himself have shown.
As happens sometimes with wealthy Russians, Mikhail Y. Lesin found his business and political fortunes in Vladimir Putin’s Russia crumbling. Once an influential player in Mr. Putin’s rise to power, he was abruptly dismissed from his position in the Kremlin’s powerful media apparatus. Perhaps sensing that things could get worse, he seemed to be preparing for a new life in America.

The trappings of a comfortable exile were already in place. He had created a corporation in Los Angeles to buy expensive homes. His son and daughter had lived there. Mr. Lesin, 57, traveled regularly to the United States with a new girlfriend, who gave birth in September.

“He finished his business in Russia, if you will, and was looking for another life,” said Sergei V. Aleksashenko, a former deputy of Russia’s central bank who moved to the United States after taking part in protests against Mr. Putin.

Instead, the new life abruptly came to an end.

On the morning of Nov. 5, Mr. Lesin was found dead inside a hotel room in Washington, where he had been invited to attend a fund-raising dinner for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in the city’s West End two nights before.

He never appeared at the event. Nor did he respond to phone calls or a text message from the fellow Russian who had invited him, Pyotr Aven, a banker and philanthropist who was honored at the dinner, at which sponsorships were $10,000.

It took more than four months for the city’s medical examiner to announce the cause of death. It was not a heart attack, as the Russian news media initially reported, but rather “blunt force injuries.” But the autopsy left the manner of death undetermined.

That has fueled speculation that Mr. Lesin might have been murdered, presumably by a financial or political rival. Not only that, but it has also given rise to more outlandish theories about what he was doing in the capital of a country that the news media — the one he did more than most to build — regularly vilifies as a decadent, hostile enemy of Russia.

In Mr. Putin’s Russia, such speculation is not without cause, even in the absence of evidence thus far. Other once prominent members of the Russian elite who have fallen out of favor have died in unexplained circumstances — from Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with radioactive polonium in 2006 to Alexander Perepilichny, a whistle-blower who died while jogging in England in 2012, apparently from an exotic toxin.
When you have a falling out with The Pooty-Poot, it doesn't matter what you do or where you go, Jack, you dead!


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