- Indian authorities are investigating the mysterious death of a Russian lawmaker.
- Russian sausage magnate Pavel Antov died in India at the end of December and had been a longtime ally of Putin.
- In June he spoke out against the war in Ukraine. Indian authorities are now investigating the matter.
Indian authorities have provided new details about a Putin-linked Russian legislator and sausage company owner who has mysteriously passed away from an Indian hotel where his traveling companion died just two days earlier.
Indian police discovered new details about the two deaths at the end of December, according to The Wall Street Journal. Russian legislator Pavel Antov died in Rayagada, India, two days after his friend, Vladimir Bydanov.
The pair had traveled through the jungle and had been drinking heavily, sources told The Journal. But their deaths join a growing list of executives and military officers associated with Putin who have died privately and at times suspiciously over the course of the war in Ukraine.
Antov, who was a member of the ruling United Russia party, owner of a sausage company and chairman of the agricultural and environmental committee in Vladimir, Russia, had criticized Putin prior to his death in December. In June, the TSTIME reported that Antov shared a Whatsapp message criticizing the war in Ukraine, which he later deleted.
“It is extremely difficult to call any of this anything other than terror,” the message said. He later came back on social media and offered his support for Putin.
Months later, Antov and Bydanov traveled to India to visit jungle areas in the country’s eastern state of Odisha, according to The Journal. Indian investigators told The Journal that the trip was marked by binge drinking, which began during their plane trips to the country and continued as they visited rural areas.
“If they don’t stop drinking, they’re going to kill themselves,” driver Natabar Mohanty said, thinking to himself during the ride, according to The Journal. So far, Indian detectives have said no foul play was involved.
Bydanov, who shared a room with Antov, died of a heart attack on Antov’s birthday. His body was cremated the next day and Antov was visibly stricken by the loss of his friend, The Journal reported.
Two days after his friend’s death, a hotel employee saw Antov – who had stopped eating and drinking due to grief – punching the air and going to the roof of the hotel.
The staff member hurried to alert the lobby, The Journal reported. When hotel staff reached the roof, they saw Antov’s lifeless body on the side of the three-story building.
Indian researchers are working to recreate Antov’s fall with a dummy modified for its size to find out whether it threw itself, was pushed or accidentally fell – and whether it was still alive at the time of its fall.
According to The Journal, the bodies of both men were cremated before their remains were returned to Russia. Manish Tewari, an Indian parliamentarian, questioned why the men were not buried, according to The Journal.
While no foul play has been reported, the deaths come amid a hardening of relations between India and Russia.
According to The Journal, Antov is at least the 19th Russian director to have died mysteriously in the course of the war. Russian energy oligarch Ravil Maganov, 67, died after falling from a hospital window in September. His company had released a statement expressing “deepest concern” over the war in Ukraine.
In the same month, another Russian executive associated with Putin mysteriously fell off his boat and died, and in October a senior military official was found dead in what was officially labeled “suicide,” a cause of death deemed suspicious by people who are close to him.