Indian authorities open investigation into Russian tycoon's deadly fall from window

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By Sarah Palmer  & AFP
Russian businessman and member of Vladimir Putin's party United Russia Pavel Antov
Russian businessman and member of Vladimir Putin's party United Russia Pavel Antov   -   Copyright  Pavel Antov/VK

Indian authorities have opened an investigation into the death of Russian businessman Pavel Antov, who fell from his bedroom window at a luxury hotel in eastern Odisha state.

His death came just two days after one of his travelling companions, Vladimir Bidenov, 61, was found unconscious at the hotel in Rayagada following an apparent heart attack and could not be revived.

Antov, known as the country's "sausage king", travelled to India to celebrate his 65th birthday with three other Russian nationals.

The local police have begun questioning potential witnesses and are reviewing CCTV footage, but they stated that there is no evidence of suspicious circumstances so far.

“All possible angles as regards to the deaths of two Russian nationals are being verified,” the regional police chief, Rajesh Pandit, told AFP.

“So far, it seems that Antov accidentally fell from the hotel terrace,” Pandit said. “He was probably disturbed by the death of his friend and went to the hotel terrace and likely fell to his death from there.”

According to Pandit, Bidenov’s heart attack was most likely caused by excessive drinking and possible drug use.

Indian authorities stated Bidenov -- also a businessman -- had a preexisting heart condition.

War critic or Putin supporter?

Antov -- a member of President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party -- has been a deputy of a regional parliament in Vladimir, 150 kilometres east of Moscow, since 2018.

Before entering politics, he founded the food manufacturing company Vladimirski Standart, and in 2019 found himself at the top of the list of the richest deputies and politicians in Russia in the domestic edition of Forbes magazine.

Antov and his friends arrived in Odisha state, on the Bay of Bengal, in mid-December. They visited various sites before arriving at their hotel in Rayagada early last week, Indian authorities shared.

The MP was staying at the luxury Hotel Sai International when he fell from the window and died. The authorities have also speculated that his death was a suicide caused by Bidenov's passing.

Earlier in June, Antov reacted on social media to a missile strike on a residential block in the Shevchenkivskyi district of Kyiv, saying, “It’s extremely difficult to call all this anything but terror.”

He then retracted the comment he had reportedly made in a WhatsApp message, saying it was sent by someone else and that he was “a supporter of the president and my country’s patriot”.

Antov's death is the latest in a series of mysterious deaths linked to Russian oligarchs and high-profile public figures.

Back in September, 67-year-old Ravil Maganov, chief of Russian oil giant Lukoil, fell from a hospital window in Moscow. 

At the start of the year, no less than four executives linked to state-owned energy giant Gazprom were found to have allegedly committed suicide.