Top Russian politician critical of Putin’s war dead after mysterious fall

Russia's 'highest-earning elected politician' who had criticised Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as “terror” has been found dead after a mysterious fall from a hotel in India.

Sausage multi-millionaire Pavel Antov, from the main pro-Putin party, United Russia, had been on a holiday to celebrate his impending 66th birthday.

The father-of-one is the latest of a string of high-profile Russians, critical of Putin's invasion of Ukraine, to have met their death following a mysterious fall.

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A male friend in Antov's party had died “from a heart attack” on Thursday last week, and the wealthy regional politician perished two days later.

The married tycoon, who is an MP in the legislative assembly in Vladimir region, was listed as Russia’s highest-earning elected official in 2019.

Indian media reports say the Antov “jumped” from the roof of the hotel and was found in a pool of blood, however, the Russian Consul General in Calcutta Alexei Idamkin told TASS that the Russian meat mogul “fell” out of a hotel window in Rayagada, Odisha state.

Alexei Idamkin said: “We are closely following the investigation and receiving all the information from the Odisha police.”

Antov's Indian guide rushed him to hospital but he was declared dead by a doctor.

The politician's friend has been identified as Vladimir Budanov, 61, a fellow Russian.

The remaining two men in the group remain unidentified.

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In June and on social media, Antov criticised the war and air strikes on Kyiv as Russian “terror” wounding Ukrainian civilians.

He highlighted a Russian missile strike and said: "A girl has been pulled out from under the rubble, the girl's father appears to have died…

"The mother is trying to be 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 seemingly then came under intense pressure after which he withdrew the comment and made a grovelling apology.

In what appears to be an attempt to save face, Antov claimed his post on social media had been “an unfortunate misunderstanding” and a “technical error”.

He insisted he had “always supported the president” and “sincerely” backed the goals of Putin’s military operation – but local journalists strongly disputed his version.

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Speaking about the mogul's death, Alexei Idamkin said: “There was a tour group of four staying at a hotel in Rayagada.

“Last Thursday, a Russian man called Vladimir B. died.

“According to the police, the cause of this was a heart attack.

“On Saturday, a second Russian, deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the Vladimir Region, Pavel Antov, fell out of the window.”

Russian media outlet SHOT said Indian police “do not rule out the possibility that Pavel Antov may have become depressed over his friend's death and committed suicide”.

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Antov's death at three star Sai International Hotel was confirmed by the vice-speaker of the Vladimir legislative assembly Vladislav Kartukhin.

In 2019, Antov's declared annual earnings were listed as £130 million in an analysis by Forbes Russia, which makes him Russia's wealthiest lawmaker by earnings.

Dozens of other high-profile Russian critics of Putin have also died following "falls" or "jumps" from buildings in recent years.

In September this year, Daily Star reported Lukoil boss Ravil Maganov died from a fall from a window at a treatment centre where he was being treated from a "severe illness".

Maganov's death followed that of prominent Putin critic Dan Rapoport, who was found dead outside an apartment block in Washington DC just weeks after he said Putin’s army was becoming “weaker every day”.

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