In Russia, Turkey / Türkiye

By New Cold War.org, from reports in TASS and the New York Times, Monday, Dec 19, 2016

Andrei Karlov (L) arriving in Turkey with Vladimir Putin (undated photo by Osman Orsal, Reuters)

Andrei Karlov (L) arriving in Turkey with Vladimir Putin (undated photo by Osman Orsal, Reuters)

ANKARA – The Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was assassinated on Monday in the country’s capital of Ankara.

Karlov was attending the opening ceremony of an art and photo exhibition dedicated to bilateral relations between Russia and Turkey. The exhibit is called ‘Russia Through Turkish eyes’ and si mounted at the Contemporary Arts Center in the Cankaya area of Ankara.

Updated report: Russia’s ambassador to Turkey shot dead mid-speech in Ankara by off-duty riot police officer, Reuters, Dec 19, 2016

The ambassador was shot in the back and died later in hospital of sustained wounds.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told journalists that the assassin is a former special task police force officer, Mevlut Mert Altintas, born in 1994. He was fired from the police in the course of investigations into the July 15 abortive military putsch in Turkey, Haberturk news portal said. [Correction: The assassin is reported to be an off-duty riot police officer. See Reuters weblink above.]

The assassin was killed by security guards on the spot. He had penetrated the premises of the arts gallery disguised as a policeman, NTV channel said. Its report indicated that the man had presented fake identification paper at the entrance. The New York Times reports that he injured three other people in his shooting rampage.

The Times reports:

The gunman, wearing a dark suit and tie, was seen in video footage of the assault shouting in Arabic: “God is great! Those who pledged allegiance to Muhammad for jihad. God is great!”

Then he switched to Turkish and shouted: “Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria! Step back! Step back! Only death can take me from here.”

Turkish officials said that the gunman was killed after a shootout with Turkish Special Forces police. T

Altintas was fired from his job for alleged involvement in what the Turkish government calls the “FETO terrorist organization”. ‘FETO’ stands for ‘Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organisation’. It’s the government’s catch-all phrase for supporters of the social/political movement led by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in exile in the United States.

Since the July 2016 military coup attempt, the Turkish government has jailed thousands of people, iincluding several hundred journalists, for alleged support or sympathy towards the Gulen movement. Tens of thousands of public service workers, police and soldiers have been fired for the same reason.

Simultaneously, the Turkish government is prosecuting a civil war against the Kurdish people in the east of the country and intervening militarily in northern Syria in support of anti-Syrian government extremists. Western media has kept its reporting of rights violations in NATO-member Turkey low-key, occasionally tut-tutting the violence and massive assaults on democracy taking place in the country.

Photos of the assassin waving his gun during the attack are being published in media. Some, such s the Times, are choosing to publish a photo of the ambassador lying injured on the floor.

This is reportedly the first assassination of a Russian diplomat since Pyotr Voykov, ambassador of the Soviet Union to Poland, was shot to death in Warsaw in 1927.

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