Cassian Baliarsingh

In a fresh twist to the mysterious death of Russian tourists in Odisha’s Rayagada district, it is learnt that the body of lawmaker Pavel Antov was consigned to flames in a hurry after the post-mortem.

The alleged haste cremation of Pavel's body as per Hindu rituals instead of burying it has raised many questions. The cremation was performed in the presence of magistrate-cum-tehsildar and other senior police officials, reports said.

Several questions have been raised whether the administration had the permission of Pavel’s family to cremate his body as per Hindu rituals or they were under any kind of pressure. The shocking death of two Russian tourists in the same hotel has raised several questions as Pavel, one of the deceased, was a Russian lawmaker and a businessman.

Shockingly, the administration officials did not even preserve the ‘viscera’ of the lawmaker for further investigation. While the viscera of Vladimir has been preserved, how could the officials not preserve the viscera of Pavel, questioned many intellectuals.

To further add to the mystery, the body was cremated at around 7 PM in the evening at Siriguda crematorium. The post-mortem was carried out at around 4PM in the evening and later the officials in haste cremated the body after sunset, reports said.

Pavel along with his friends had landed in Odisha and had visited Kandhamal district from where they travelled to Rayagada where they stayed at Sai International Hotel in the town.

However, mysteriously, one of them, Vladimir Videnov, 62, was found dead inside his hotel room on December 22. The post-mortem report confirmed heart attack to be the reason for his death while reports surfaced that there were a large number of liquor bottles near his body and he must have died due to excess drinking. 

Shockingly, Pavel was found dead in a pool of blood, just two days later on December 24. While many claimed he fell off his room terrace, their guide claimed Pavel was very close to Vladimir and might have jumped to death after being unable to bear the trauma.

Now, the two deaths have raised questions as to why the lawmaker had come to Odisha, the mysterious circumstances of his death and the link between Russia and Odisha.

On the other hand, the Crime Branch of Odisha is likely to visit Rayagada to probe the mysterious deaths. A couple who had accompanied the two friends has been advised to stay back and cooperate with the investigation.

The Crime Branch is also looking into other angles in the mysterious deaths.

Meanwhile, police maintained that Pavel’s last rites were performed following the directions of the Russian Embassy.

On the other hand, senior Congress leader Manish Tewari raised questions over why the deceased were cremated and not buried as they were Christians. 

"Russian Oligarch.. War Critic.. Offbeat hotel..Colleague died 2 days earlier..Convenient window.. another death..Both cremated in India..being Christians not buried..Bodies not sent home to Russia.. If this is not unnatural, then I didn't go to Law school," Tweeted Tewari.

Meanwhile, Rayagada CDMO said Antov’s viscera has not been preserved. 

"61-year-old Vladimir's post-mortem was conducted on December 24 by Dr Gautam Patnaik and Dr Biren Kumar Nayak. His viscera report has been preserved. In the second case, 65-year-old Antov's autopsy was done by Dr BK Dev and Dr Himanshu Nath on December 26. His viscera has not been preserved." said Lal Mohan Rout, CDMO, Rayagada.

Further, he added, "We have provided the post-mortem report to the police. We can't disclose any further as this is beyond the rule." 

On being asked about the reason why the viscera was not preserved, the CDMO said, "The doctors who conducted post-mortem may have deemed it unnecessary as they were confirmed about the cause of death."

Later in the day, says MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, "We are aware of it and Odisha Police are investigating it as per our laws."