By Yanay Rosen (Online Editor-in-Chief).
Andrey Kirlov, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, was assassinated while giving a speech in an Ankara art exhibit Monday night. The gunman, 22 year old police officer Mevlut Mert Altintas was killed at the scene.
Chilling footage of the assassination has since gone viral.
After shooting the ambassador in the back multiple times, Altintas shouted “God is great! Those who pledged allegiance to Muhammad for jihad. God is great!” in Arabic.
Altinas also yelled “Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!” in Turkish while pacing in front of the camera.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says this was an act of terror. “We regard this as a terrorist act. Terrorism will not win and we will fight against it decisively.”
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stands with Russia. “I describe this attack on Russia’s embassy as an attack to Turkey, Turkey’s state and nation.”
Russian President Vladmir Putin says this attack will not deter Russia’s war in Syria. “A crime has been committed and it was without doubt a provocation aimed at spoiling the normalization of Russo-Turkish relations and spoiling the Syrian peace process which is being actively pushed by Russia, Turkey, Iran and others,” he said.
“There can only be one response: stepping up the fight against terrorism. The bandits will feel this happening.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov agreed with Putin. “The important thing is to understand who is behind this crime. We are convinced that the main goal of those who planned this barbaric act [is] to undermine the process of normalization of relations between Russia and Turkey, largely in order to prevent an effective fight against terrorism in Syria. This goal is futile. It will not work.”
Associated Press photographer Burhan Ozbilici, who captured the entire event, says that Altintas stood behind the ambassador during his speech. “When I returned to the office to edit my photos, I was shocked to see that the shooter was actually standing behind the ambassador as he spoke. Like a friend, or a bodyguard,” he said.
Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin says that in spite of Russia’s actions in Syria, the assassination is still unjust. “Russia has been responsible for horrendous violations of human rights & the murder of thousands innocent people in Syria & Ukraine. This, however is no excuse [for] the murder of the ambassador of one sovereign state to another. [International] law and human rights must be respected!” he tweeted.
Russian-Ukrainian relations have been strained since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in February of 2014.