Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Dead Ex-Putin Aide Was in Town for Think Tank Event

Mikhail Lesin, a former aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was found dead last fall in a hotel near think tank row in Washington, DC in what some consider a possible murder, apparently was in town for an event sponsored by a well-known think tank.  Here is more from The Washington Post:
On Nov. 3, two days before his body was found, Lesin was expected at a fundraiser honoring a philanthropist and chief executive of the largest private bank in Russia, along with a Washington socialite and patron of the arts. It was organized by the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute, which works to build ties between Russia and the West.
Caroline Scullin, a spokeswoman for the institute, confirmed that Lesin had been invited but did not pick up his place card for a table of 10 that cost at least $10,000.

The above-mentioned fundraiser was, more specifically, the Wilson Center's Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Awards Dinner, which took place on November 3, 2015 at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC.  It was honoring Petr Aven, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Alfa-Bank Holding.

Sponsorship of that dinner starts at $10,000 and goes all the way up to $100,000.

The Kennan Institute was founded as a division of the Wilson Center in 1974 through the joint initiative of Ambassador George F. Kennan, then Wilson Center Director James Billington, and historian S. Frederick Starr.  The Institute was named in honor of Ambassador Kennan's relative, George Kennan, a nineteenth-century explorer of Russia and Siberia.

Kennan Institute works to improve American expertise and knowledge about Russia, Ukraine, and other states in the region.  In addition to its Washington, DC office, it also operates and office is Kiev, Ukraine.

In 2014, the Kennan Institute shut down its Moscow office amid increased tensions between the US and Russia.