Again and again, Russian oligarchs die in mysterious ways. Now Pavel Antov has died in a fall from a hotel room in India. Who was the mega-rich who dared to criticize Putin?

The richest deputy in Russia is dead: Pavel Antov died on a holiday trip to India. According to the Indian television broadcaster NDTV, the 65-year-old died in a fall from his hotel room last Saturday – before that he had publicly criticized Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine. And: Antov died only a few days after his fellow passenger, Vladimir Bidenov, had been found dead. In the same hotel.

The Russian politician is no stranger: Antov was a deputy for Putin’s ruling party United Russia and earned billions as the founder of a meat factory. Despite his closeness to Putin, Antov had in July criticized the Russian rocket attacks on Kyiv as “terrorism” against civilians. Now the 65-year-old is dead. Was he possibly liquidated by the Kremlin?

Moscow-born Pavel Genrikhovich Antov graduated from the St. Petersburg Military Medical Academy at a young age. In 2000, Antov founded the meat company “Vladimir Standard”, with which he later became one of the most successful meat producers in the region. At the same time, Antov was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the Vladimir region in 2018 for the party “United Russia”, where he was the head of the committee on Agricultural policy, nature management and ecology.

In addition, Antov was a member of the regional committee on education, science, culture, tourism, sports, family affairs, youth and media, writes the Russian news agency RusTeamMedia. Antov was also socially committed: he founded the Russian art association “ArtSoyuzZebra” and was actively involved in promoting the Vladimir painting school. He is also referred to in the Russian media as a philanthropist and community activist.

After his election as a deputy, Antov reported an income of 9.97 billion rubles (the equivalent of more than 137 billion euros), taking first place in the 2019 ranking of the richest officials and deputies in Russia, according to the financial daily Forbes.

In 2020, his successful meat company expanded and he built a new meat processing complex in the Vladimir region – creating 340 jobs, according to the headline “RusTeamMedia” at the time.

Although Antov, as Russia’s wealthiest MP, was one of Putin’s confidants, little is known about his private life or true political beliefs. He leaves behind a wife and a daughter.

In the summer of 2022, Antov made headlines when he dared to publicly criticize the Ukraine war. In July, he wrote a message on WhatsApp describing the Russian rocket attacks on Kyiv as “terrorism,” citing reports of a girl being pulled from the rubble after her home was shelled.

A short time later, Antov backtracked and apologized for the post, claiming the message was posted by someone else. Antov went on to say that he is “a supporter of the President and a patriot of his country” and “shares the goals” of the Kremlin invasion of Ukraine.

How it came to his mysterious death is still unclear. Antov was reportedly out with a tour group of four to celebrate his upcoming 66th birthday. Last Wednesday, Antov reportedly checked into Hotel Sai International in Rayagada, where he was found dead in a pool of blood outside the hotel on Saturday.

The fact that one of Antov’s fellow travelers had died in the same hotel just a few days earlier is particularly mysterious. On December 22, the body of Russian Vladimir Bidenov was discovered in a room of the hotel. According to information from the police, the 61-year-old died of a heart attack.

Nevertheless, the Russian state news agency “Tass” reported that according to the Russian Consulate General in Kolkata, there was no evidence of a crime. Regarding Antov’s death, a senior police official said it appeared to be a suicide as Antov was depressed over the death of his friend, PTI news agency told Indian television channel NDTV.

Antov’s death is one in a series of mysterious deaths of Russian oligarchs. In September, for example, the CEO of the Russian oil company Lukoil, Rawil Maganov, died in a fall from a Moscow hospital window. The 67-year-old had been treated at the hospital for heart problems. The Russian media also cited suicide as the most likely cause of the death. The representative of the Russian oil company had criticized the Ukraine war early on.

Then in early December another mysterious death: After a dinner on the French Côte d’Azur, Russian billionaire Dmitry Zelenov suddenly felt unwell. For unknown reasons, he then fell over the banister and died a short time later in the hospital. The official cause of death here too: a fall.