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Pavel Antov, a Russian man who made his fortune in the sausage industry, died recently after falling from a hotel in India. Screenshot from YouTube and WION
A wealthy Russian businessman and outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin was found dead on Christmas Eve in India. Sixty-five-year-old Pavel Antov was vacationing in the country, celebrating his birthday, when passers-by discovered him dead on the ground in a pool of blood after presumably falling from a third-floor window in his hotel. In addition to being a well-known purveyor of processed meats, Antov was also a local legislator in the city of Vladimir, one hundred and twenty miles east of Moscow. He was a member of Putin’s United Russia party and ran the agrarian policy, nature management, and ecology committee. At the time of his death, Forbe’s put his net worth at around $140 million.
Antov was the latest, but not the only Russian businessman to die in the hotel, located in the Rayagada district of India’s Odisha region. Only two days earlier, one of Antov’s friends accompanying him on the trip was found passed out in his room, surrounded by empty bottles of alcohol, reports The Washington Post. The man, Vladimir Bidenov, was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Not surprisingly, police in the region wondered what was going on after two fairly high-ranking Russian nationals died under suspicious circumstances under their watch. So, as is common in the most civilized world, they took to Twitter.
DGP, Odisha has ordered CID-Crime Branch to take over enquiry into Rayagada Police Station UD Case No.34/2022 & No.35/2022. These cases relates to unnatural death of two Russian nationals in Rayagada Dist. @CIDOdisha
Vivekananda Sharma, a local police official, was quick to report that Bidenov suffered a stroke and speculated that since Antov “was depressed after [Bidenov’s] death and he too died.” While that may be technically true, it doesn’t explain how Mr. Antov fell over thirty feet to his demise. Later, other police officials speculated publicly that his death must have been a suicide.
RT India, a local Russian news outlet, quoted the Russian embassy in Dehli saying, “According to information available to the police, no criminal aspect is seen.” I’m no expert on the subject, but they would not have been perfect criminals if evidence of their crimes had been readily apparent.
Let’s back up a bit. Have I mentioned that Antov pissed off Vladimir Putin in public? That can have consequences. According to the BBC, back in June, Antov spoke about a Russian missile attack in Ukraine that killed a man and injured his seven-year-old daughter and her mother. He said, “It’s extremely difficult to call all this anything but terror.” Did he say this on a national TV broadcast? Not exactly. It was part of a WhatsApp message, but Antov knew his government had eyes and ears everywhere, so he deleted the message and made an unbelievable excuse. He told people he accidentally posted the letter from someone with whom he disagreed. Sure, we all do that sometimes, don’t we?
So I tracked down his original post in Russian and translated it into English through the magic of Google. You can read it below. Plug in the word “war” where he writes “CBO.” In my estimation, he realized what he did and the possible ramifications of it and took to the platform again to massively overexplain his words and try to walk his statement back. As you can see, his comrades quickly called him out on his BS.
This isn’t the first time a Russian tycoon fell out of a window to his death this year. Back in September, sixty-seven-year-old Ravil Maganov, chairman of a prominent Russian oil company, fell from a window to his death in his room in a Moscow hospital where he was recovering from a heart attack. Some reports claimed that it was an accident, others, suicide. The brave hinted at the possibility of a more sinister motive. Weeks before the initiation of Putin’s “special military operation,” Maganov’s company got a fair amount of press for being the only Russian oil producer against the idea of war with Ukraine. They didn’t stop there. Weeks after the invasion, official statements from Lukoil called for “the immediate cessation of the armed conflict.”
The trail of bodies reads like a cold war thriller. In April, Sergey Protosenya, former head of the largest independent natural gas producer in Russia, was found dead in the yard of a Spanish villa he had owned with his wife and daughter. They were both found dead of stab wounds inside the structure. Protosenya was worth approximately $440 million at the time of his demise.
Had he crossed Putin? Perhaps. Weeks earlier, Putin put out statements condemning oligarchs. But, he warned, “I do not judge those with villas in Miami or the French Riviera. Or [those] who can’t get by without oysters or foie gras or so-called ‘gender freedoms’…The problem is they mentally exist there, and not here, with our people, with Russia.”
It seems no one is safe from Putin’s wrath, and the trail of bodies will likely not end anytime soon.
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