A wealthy Russian lawmaker and businessman was found dead at a hotel in India this weekend, Indian police officials said Tuesday.
The death of Pavel Antov, a Russian sausage tycoon, came two days after another Russian, Vladimir Bidenov, was found unconscious after an apparent heart attack at the same hotel.
Bidenov could not be revived and died at the hotel in Rayagada region in eastern Odisha state.
"The crime branch has taken over the case. We cannot jump to any conclusions now and will have to figure out the movements of Pavel Antov before his death. Let us wait," Odisha's Rayagada director general of police Sunil Kumar Bansal told DW.
"I don't think we should jump to any theories. Let the full facts of the investigation come out," added Bnasal.
Though the police have not seen any signs of foul play from the crime spot where Antov's body was found, they are examining CCTV footage again, questioning hotel staff, the tour guide who took the Russians out and examining the autopsy reports.
A sausage magnate who opposed Ukraine war
Antov was 65-years-old and made his fortune from a meat company — Vladimir Standard — he founded.
He arrived to Odisha in the middle of December and checked into the hotel with three other Russian nationals at the beginning of last week, police said. He was reportedly at the hotel to celebrate his birthday.
Antov has criticized the war in Ukraine, with media reports citing his online post slamming Russian missile strikes on Ukraine this June.
He reportedly wrote that, "A girl has been pulled out from under the rubble, the girl's father appears to have died. The mother is being pulled out with a crane, she is trapped under a slab. To tell the truth, it is extremely difficult to call this anything other than terror."
He soon deleted the social media post after facing backlash and called it an "unfortunate misunderstanding."
Lawmaker's death raises questions
Antov was a well-known regional lawmaker in a city called Vladimir, which lies east to capital city Moscow.
Russian state-owned TASS media reported that Antov "fell out of a window" from the hotel in Rayagada on Saturday.
Police chief Rajesh Pandit said it looked like Antov accidentally fell from the hotel terrace.
"He was probably disturbed by the death of his friend and went to the hotel terrace and likely fell to his death from there," Pandit said.
Police added they were reviewing CCTV footage and questioning hotel staff, as well as waiting on detail autopsy reports to provide concrete answers to questions surrounding the deaths.
But, there was no sign of foul play from what they knew, Pandit said.
The Russian Embassy refused to comment.
"We are aware of the deaths of two Russian citizens. The Indian police have not yet found anything suspicious," a senior Russian Embassy official told DW.
A senior intelligence official, who could not be named because of the nature and sensitivity of his work, pointed out that the Indian government was aware that at least a dozen Russian elites had mysteriously died by siuicide or unexplained circumstances in recent times.
"We have heard of these other deaths as well but at this point we cannot consture or read anything amiss," the intelligence official told DW.
Latest in string of mysterious deaths
Antov's death is the latest in a string of mysterious deaths of Russian nationals and businessmen since the war in Ukraine.
Alexander Buzakov, the director-general of a major Russian shipyard that specializes in building non-nuclear submarines died over the weekend, the shipyard announced in a statement without offering details.
In September, Ivan Pechorin, the top manager for the Corporation for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic, was found dead in Vladivostok, a major Pacific port city in Russia. Russia media said Pechorin died after drowning near Cape Ignatyev in the Sea of Japan.
Also in September, the chairman of Russia's largest private oil company Lukoil, Ravil Maganov, was found dead after falling out of a window. Russian media later reported he took his own life.
In May, Alexander Subbotin, a former top manager of Lukoil, was found dead in a house near Moscow, according to Russian media. Other Russian businessmen and people with ties to Russia's military-industrial complex have also been reported dead in recent months.
DW's Murali Krishnan in Delhi contributed to this report
rm/dj (AFP, dpa)