Russian president Vladimir Putin has rescheduled his press conference to mourn the ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov who is pictured lifeless on the ground. The deceased was shot by Mevlut Mert Altintas at an art gallery in Ankara, Turkey, on 19 December, 2016.
Media reports say Andrei Karlov‘s death could have links to terrorism because the shooter was heard shouting “Don’t forget Syria! Don’t forget Aleppo” in Turkish before the murder.
The “terrorist”, an off-duty police officer, was also killed as riot police engaged him in a shoot-out.
Image: Andrei Karlov
Russian officials say they believe their countryman was a victim of “terrorism”.
Vladimir Putin has therefore postponed his annual conference from 22 December to 23 December so he could attend the funeral of his ambassador to Turkey who was shot and killed on Monday.
“As Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov’s funeral will take place on Thursday, Dec. 22, the President has decided to put off the annual press conference,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.
“The president will participate in the mourning ceremony.”
Image shows the killer Mevlut Mert Altintas.
The man who shot Karlov is said to be a former Ankara police officer who was also present among other security operatives as the Russian diplomat attended an inauguration of an art exhibit in Ankara titled “Russia through the eyes of the Turks.”
Karlov, also a former ambassador to North Korea, was shot several times from behind.
Following the sudden gunshots and death of the Russian ambassador, a firefight broke out and Altintas was shot dead by police.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has declared that Moscow sees the fatal shooting as a “terrorist attack.”
That attack happened just a day before the foreign and defense ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey held talks in Moscow regarding a ceasefire in Aleppo.
Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek said, “the attack was aimed at spoiling Turkey’s relations with Moscow.”
Russia’s RIA agency reported that “security detail around the Russian embassy in Turkey was stepped up after the attack.”
Putin agreed with Gokcek’s argument, saying that “Karlov was ‘vilified’ in an attempt to undermine Russian-Turkish relations.”
Ankara officials are suspecting Fethullah Gulen, the self-exiled Turkish cleric who has been in the U.S. since 1999.
Turkey claims the “terrorist” had received orders from Washington to carry out the attack on behalf of his Islamic transnational religious movement, which Turkish officials have dubbed the Gilenist Terror Cult.
“Any notion that the United States was in any way supportive of this or behind this or even indirectly involved is absolutely ridiculous,” U.S. State Department spokesperson John Kirby said during a daily press briefing on Tuesday.
“We need to let the investigators do their job and we need to let the facts and the evidence take them where it is before we jump to conclusions,” Kirby said, Iran Daily reported.
Image: Andrei Karlov
“But any notion that the United States was in any way supportive of this or behind this or even indirectly involved is absolutely ridiculous,” Kirby added.
However, according to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who spoke with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on the telephone on Tuesday, Russia and Turkey are both convinced Gulen was behind the attack.
“Both Turkey and Russia know the Gulenist Terror Cult (FETO) was behind Russian envoy Karlov’s assassination,” the Daily Sabah reported.
Image: Andrei Kolarov
As agreed by Russia and Turkey, the two countries will hold a joint investigation into Karlov’s murder. Eighteen Russian foreign ministry officials and intelligence agencies landed in Ankara Tuesday morning for this purpose.
Andrei Karlov is not the only Russian to have died in the line of duty. He is the fourth Russian ambassador to have died in active service to his country.
Media reports confirm that in 1829, Alexander Griboyedov was murdered in Tehran.
Before Karlov, Pyotr Voykov, a Soviet envoy to Poland, was shot to death in Warsaw in 1927; Vatslav Vorovsky was assassinated in Lausanne in 1923.