Russian Ambassador Karlov was visiting the Municipality of Cankaya’s Modern Arts Center for an exhibition named ‘Russia Through the Eyes of Turks’ in the Turkish capital, Ankara. He was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer, Mevlüt Mert Altintas, who had entered the building using his police credentials and stood behind him almost the entire time, posing as a bodyguard. Karlov was giving a speech regarding the gallery at the moment of his death.
The assassin Altintas was a 22 year-old riot police officer, a graduate from the Izmir Rustu Unsal Police Academy, and was off-duty at the time; Hinting at a carefully planned political assasination. He reportedly shouted ramblings about Aleppo, including “Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria”, and also yelled “Only death can move me from here”. While the ruling AKP claimed that he was a member of the FETO terrorist organization, his affiliations remain unclear.
The timing of the attack was also delicate, as it came just a day before the Moscow talks, in which the situation of Aleppo is going to be discussed between Turkey, Russia and Iran. The relationship between Russia and Turkey has also been improving rapidly, as Turkey minimized or stopped its support for Syrian rebels, in return for Russia’s guarantee to not support Kurdish groups in Syria against Turkey. The mutual understanding was expected to be consolidated into a friendly diplomatic status.
Erdogan and Putin both gave televized speeches about the assasination, telling the public that they spoke on the phone, that this was an attack aimed to harm relations between their countries, and that a Russian team of investigators is going to be accepted into Turkey to determine “who gave the kill order”. There seems to be little to no negative impact on the relationship between two countries so far, the future effects of the attack remain to be seen.