There is another tale of drugs, intrigue and probably a murder mystery brewing amid the sun and sand of Goa. It has just been revealed that more than two months before the Scarlette Keeling case put the place on the global tourism blacklist, a lieutenant with the Moscow police, was found dead in his beachside hotel room. He was reportedly an anti-narcotics officer on an undercover investigation into Goa’s powerful drug mafia.
Evgeny Kuzmin (25) was found dead in Mandrem, north Goa, on December 9 last year. There are several questions over his death. The autopsy report, a copy of which is with HT , gives no opinion about the cause of death. Viscera results have not yet been released by the Goa Medical College (GMC), which refused to say why the cause of death has been withheld. “There have been so many deaths of foreign nationals in recent times (20 recorded in February and March 2008 alone), that I can’t recall individual cases,” said GMC’s associate professor of forensic medicine Dr. Edmund Rodrigues.
Kishan Kumar, Goa’s inspector-general of police, refused to comment. But a Russian staying in Mandrem said on condition of anonymity: “He was an anti-narcotics man and was drugged. It was not an accidental death.”
Russian authorities have refused to verify what Kuzmin was doing in Goa. “He worked for the Moscow police, but we cannot comment on whether he was on official duty,” said Alexander Mantytsky, Russian consul-general in Mumbai. “We haven’t received the viscera results, so we can’t say whether it was a murder or an accident. I am pursuing the case with the Goa police. There has been an increase in crime against Russians this season.”
Relations between the Goa government and Russia are strained after it was announced in March that 400 properties owned by foreigners in Goa — most of them Russian — may be classified as illegal and reclaimed. The state is also trying to pass a law to tighten regulations on the sale of land to foreigners.
The lawyer for the Russian Consulate General — who is also representing Fiona MacKeown, Keeling’s mother — demanded a full investigation into Kuzmin’s death. “Kuzmin’s family has come to terms with his death but they are still awaiting the viscera results. Besides, the vague and ambiguous police investigation requires clarity,” said Vikram Varma.