Russia bids farewell to slain Turkey envoy

Russian President Vladimir Putin offers his condolences to Marina Davydova Karlova, the widow of slained Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov, during the funeral ceremony at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow on December 22, 2016. Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 22 bade farewell to Andrei Karlov at a packed memorial ceremony in Moscow for the diplomat who was assassinated in Turkey by an off-duty policeman. / AFP PHOTO / SPUTNIK / ALEXEI NIKOLSKY


Moscow / AFP

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday bade farewell to Andrei Karlov at a packed memorial ceremony in Moscow for the diplomat who was assassinated in Turkey by an off-duty
Dozens of colleagues and relatives attended the ceremony for Karlov, the ambassador to Turkey whose death was labelled by Moscow as an act of terror while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the perpetrator was a member of Fethullah Gulen’s group behind the aborted July coup.
Putin laid red roses at the foot of Karlov’s coffin and spoke with his relatives but left the ceremony without making a statement.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov praised the deceased envoy, who was 62, and paid his respects to his mother Maria, widow Marina and son Gennady, also a diplomat, as the ambassador’s body lay in state in a flower-decked coffin.
“We are saying goodbye to our friend Andrei Karlov who became a victim of a malicious, vile terrorist attack while in the line of duty,” Lavrov said at the ceremony held in the foreign ministry headquarters.
“We will never forget Andrei.”
A religious service was later expected to be held at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour led by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill before the ambassador is laid to rest at a cemetery.
In terrifying scenes captured on photo and video, 22-year-old policeman Mevlut Mert Altintas shot the ambassador nine times in the back on Monday while he was delivering a speech at an exhibition of photographs of Russia in Ankara.
The ambassador fell to the ground and later died in hospital.
The assailant, who was off-duty and managed to circumvent the metal detectors by flashing his police credentials, shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo” after targeting Karlov and was himself killed in a subsequent shootout with Turkish guards.
Altintas had no prior criminal record but Turkish authorities have moved to link the murder with Gulen, a preacher living in self-imposed exile in the United States whom Ankara previously blamed for orchestrating a coup against Erdogan.
Pro-government press had reported that police discovered pro-Gulen literature belonging to Altintas and sympathisers of the preacher in his circle. Erdogan went as far as to say that the killer “was a member of the FETO (Fethullah Terror Organisation).”
Gulen has denied involvement in both the coup and the envoy’s assassination, and Moscow has also refrained from assigning blame, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warning against “rushing to conclusions” before the investigation is complete.

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