Indian police are investigating the death of sausage tycoon Pavel Antov over the Christmas weekend.
The top Russian diplomat in New Delhi traded barbs with a senior Indian politician on Twitter on Thursday night over the death of a Russian tycoon who once allegedly criticized the war in Ukraine, in a rare public spat involving Moscow and a country he considers a friend.
Pavel Antov, a billionaire sausage tycoon, was found dead outside his hotel in the eastern Indian state of Odisha last weekend. Indian police are investigating the death, which occurred two days after another person traveling with Antov died.
On Thursday, Manish Tewari, a former Indian minister from the opposition Indian National Congress party, questioned why the bodies of the two men were cremated despite being Christians. “Hercule Poirot says burned bodies tell no tales,” he wrote on Twitter, referring to Agatha Christie’s famed fictional Belgian detective.
Russian Ambassador to India Denis Alipov was quick to respond, also on the social media platform. The diplomat thanked Indian officials for investigating the deaths, but then attacked Tiwari. “In the meantime, it would be useful for some Hercule Poirot lovers to learn that cremation in Russia is as customary as burial,” he wrote. “Idleness is the root of all evil.”
We appreciate the investigative efforts of the Indian authorities into the deaths of two Russian nationals in Odisha.
In the meantime, it would be helpful for some Hercule Poirot lovers to learn that cremation in Russia is as customary as burial.
Idleness is the root of all evil. https://t.co/0QVg2X4Kmz
— Denis Alipov 🇷🇺 (@AmbRus_India) December 29, 2022
Tewari then tweeted, seemingly unconvinced. Meanwhile, India’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday it would leave the police to investigate and did not want to “rush” into possible causes of Antov’s death.
Antov was a politician in Vladimir, a town 150 km east of Moscow, where his meat processing business is located. He had been a member of President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party. But in June Russian media published a WhatsApp message attributed to Antov criticizing a missile attack on Ukraine. Antov denied writing this message.
The billionaire is the latest wealthy Russian to have had a dispute with Putin to have died since the start of the war in Ukraine and Tiwari’s tweet was referring to a news article highlighting the coincidence.
It is unusual for seasoned diplomats to engage in public feuds with officials – current or former – of their host country, especially in countries considered friends. India is one of the few countries to have yet formally condemned the war in Ukraine.
However, the Russian Embassy in New Delhi has in the past reprimanded those it considers unfairly critical. In late February, he accused sections of the Indian media of “biased and misleading reporting”.
▫️Russia has repeatedly launched and indicated its willingness to dialogue and negotiate
▫️Nuclear sites in Ukraine are safe and secure, as confirmed by the IAEA
Any information to the contrary is biased and misleading. https://t.co/EM4kW6oAgy
— Russia in India 🇷🇺 (@RusEmbIndia) February 28, 2022