Deaths of Russian tourists: Another Crime Branch team sent to Rayagada to collect evidence

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Police has formed another Crime Branch (CB) team and dispatched it to Rayagada as part of the investigation into the back-to-back deaths of two Russian tourists at a hotel in the south Odisha town recently.

The four-member CB team led by DSP Saroj Kant Mahanto has been entrusted with the responsibility of visiting the spot, examining the witnesses and, identifying and collecting evidence from the spot and local police before taking follow up action, sources said.

Two forensic experts and a photographer have been sent to Rayagada to assist the CID-CB team in the investigation, sources added.

The CB, meanwhile, has collected some information about the family members of the deceased Vladimir Bydanov (61) and Pavel Antov (65) during the examination of Russian couple Turov Mikhail (63) and Natalia Panasenko.

The Russian couple along with Bydanov, Antov and their Indian guide Jitendra Singh had checked into the hotel in Rayagada on December 21.

Bydanov was found dead under mysterious circumstances in his hotel room on December 22. Two days later on December 24, Antov was found dead in the hotel. Antov was a Russian lawmaker and a bitter critic of President Vladimir Putin. The police had said that Antov died after falling from the third floor of the hotel.

“We are in the process of contacting the family members of both Bydanov and Antov to cross-check the veracity of information collected during the examination of Russian couple Turov Mikhail and Natalia Panasenko,” said a CB official.

The Crime Branch has further examined guide Jitendra Singh and tried to ascertain the veracity of chain of events and crosscheck them with the information collected from Russian couple, added the official.

“The Crime Branch has collected copies of documents regarding the Russian tourists’ travel in India. Their travel itinerary, booking at different hotels, airlines and travel company are being verified. Efforts are being made to collect medical health records or the two deceased persons. Our investigation is on,” said the official.

Notably, the CB had earlier formed a team led by DSP Tapan Kumar Dash to probe the deaths of the two Russian tourists.

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