THE first photograph of the Russian couple who died in a cyanide suicide pact in an Edinburgh hotel room has been released as it emerged that a note found with their bodies told how they had ended their lives because of crippling debts.
The picture shows Daria Kuchuk, 35, and boyfriend Igor Pavlov, 27, as they pose on holiday somewhere in the UK with Mr Pavlov’s parents, Alexander and Tatanya, several years ago.
Their bodies were found in a room at the Scotsman Hotel on the city’s North Bridge on 1 August after they died of “toxicity” from a mixture of cyanide and nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas.
The couple had become swamped with debt after a failed business venture. A note left by the pair told how they had fallen into serious financial difficulties after their business – believed to be related to the sale of old films – collapsed.
A statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry press centre said the couple had not been married, but had lived together for a “considerable time”. A spokesman said: “Both had been living in the United Kingdom for several years and both had permanent residence in the UK. British police are convinced it was suicide and we have no reason not to trust their judgement.
“It is known that a final note was left at the scene and the reason for suicide was given as follows – they failed in starting a business in the UK and faced serious financial difficulties because of this. This is not a quote from the note, but just the explanation.”
A friend of Ms Kuchuk’s was quoted as paying tribute to her friend, who received a degree in late antique and Byzantine studies from Oxford University.
“I remember her as a really clever girl, very good, nothing bad at all,” she said, adding that Ms Kuchuk’s mother had been upset that she dedicated herself to Mr Pavlov’s business, rather than working on her own. “You could say she was unearthly with her head in the clouds.”
The couple’s second-floor flat in World’s End Close, off the Royal Mile, was searched by police hours after their bodies were found, sparking a chemical alert at the hotel.
Police confirmed that no traces of chemicals were found at their home. Both Ms Kuchuk and Mr Pavlov had been granted permanent citizenship to stay in Britain. The cause of death listed on their death certificates said: “presumed cyanide and nitrous oxide toxicity”. Their bodies were discovered at around 12:15pm on 1 August, but they were pronounced dead 95 minutes later. The death certificates said they were “found dead”.
Nitrous oxide carries an asphyxiation risk and is also a dissociative anaesthetic. It is commonly known as laughing gas due to the euphoric effects after inhaling it.