The Odisha police intensified the probe into mysterious circumstances under which Pavel Antov, a known critic of President Vladimir Putin, died in the southern district of Rayagada, 400 km from here, on December 24.
Antov (65) had come to Rayagada along with friend Bydanov Vladimir (61), and a Russian couple Turov Mikhail (63) and Panasenko Natalia as part of sightseeing, said Rayagada police on Tuesday. They were staying in Sai International Hotel at district headquarter town of Rayagada.
After landing in Bhubaneswar, they had come to Rayagada via Daringbadi, a scenic place in Kandhamal district, said Rasmi Ranjan Pradhan, Inspector in Charge of Rayagada Police Station. They had also visited Chatikona, a traditional tribal market, before reaching Rayagada.
“On the evening of December 21, 2022, they had a drink in the hotel room. Vladimir was found dead on the morning of December 22. According to a doctor, Vladimir had died of a heart attack. He had alcohol on empty stomach,” said Mr. Pradhan.
“It took two days to avail permission to cremate Vladimir on December 24. After cremation, Antov had gone to the roof of the hotel and he fell from the roof. Further investigation would tell if he ended his life or fell accidentally,” said the police inspector. Antov’s body was also cremated in Rayagada.
Antov was critical of the Russian attack on Ukraine. “As of now, we have not found any foul play. The postmortem report says the heart problem was the reason behind the death of Vladimir. The exact reason would be known when the final report is received. The preliminary investigation says Antov had ended his life,” said Sunil Bansal, Director General of Police.
Mr. Bansal said State Crime Branch had been asked to help Rayagada district police. Embassy of Russia is yet to respond to the development
Hotel proprietor Kaushik Thakkar said Antov was under depression after the death of his friend. The couple Turov Mikhail (63) and Panasenko Natalia, who is from Krasnodar Territory, Belozechensk of Russia, has left for Bhubaneswar. Vladimir was from Yoshkar Ola Soviet Street of Russia.
Rayagada is a tribal-dominated district and home to, Dongria Kondh, a particularly vulnerable tribal group, that had turned down a proposal from Vedanta Aluminium to mine the Niyamgiri hills for bauxite in 2013.