A wealthy Russian businessman and regional lawmaker from Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party plunged to his death from a hotel window in India over the weekend—two days after a fellow Russian he was traveling with was found dead in the same hotel.
Pavel Antov, 65, who topped Forbes’ list of the richest Russian lawmakers in 2019, thus joins a rapidly growing list of prominent Russian figures found dead in mysterious circumstances.
The Russian outlet Zebra-TV reported that Antov’s lifeless body was found in front of his hotel in the eastern Indian state of Odisha on Saturday. Antov, a lawmaker from Russia’s Vladimir region and the founder and vice president of the hugely successful Vladimir Standard meat company, had been vacationing in India with a group of tourists when local police say he apparently fell out the window.
Over the summer, Antov condemned Russia’s airstrikes on Ukraine in a scathing statement posted to social media.
“The center of decision-making is today an ordinary residential building in the Shevchenkivskyidistrict… In truth, it’s extremely hard to call this anything other than terror,” the post read.
He later edited his post, calling the initial version a “misunderstanding” and “technical error” and stressing that he had “always supported the Russian president.”
The Legislative Assembly of the Vladimir Region confirmed Antov’s death, calling it a “heavy and irreparable loss” for the entire region. A source cited by Russia’s TASS news agency said the lawmaker had just turned 65 two days before his death.
Bizarrely, authorities at the Russian Consulate General in Kolkata say police don’t see any “criminal component” in the “tragic events” at the hotel. Vyacheslav Kartukhin, the vice speaker of the Vladimir regional parliament, used the same language to describe Antov’s death, chalking it up to “tragic circumstances” in a statement on Telegram.
Two days before Antov’s “tragic” plunge, a friend he was traveling with was found dead in the hotel where the group was staying. The friend, identified by Zebra-TV as 61-year-old businessman Vladimir Bydanov, was reportedly “discovered unconscious” in his room surrounded by empty wine bottles.
Russian state media reports that Bydanov’s suspected cause of death was a heart attack, while Antov’s was his fall out a window.
“We are in constant touch with the relatives of the dead Russians, local authorities, and police [in India],” Russia’s consul general in India, Alexei Idamkin, told TASS.
The bizarre deaths come just a few days after Alexander Buzakov, the director general of Russia’s Admiralty Shipyards, died “suddenly and tragically” at the age of 66. His cause of death remains unclear.
A few weeks earlier, one-time real estate tycoon Dmitry Zelenov died suddenly while visiting friends in the French Riviera.
At least 13 other prominent Russian figures, many of them involved in the oil and gas industry, have died in strange circumstances this year.