The killer of Russia's ambassador in Turkey What we know about the man who shot the diplomat dead

11:40, 20 december 2016

Photo: Burhan Ozbilici / AP / Scanpix / LETA

Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was killed by Turkish policeman Mevlut Mert Altyntash. When shooting the diplomat, Altyntash shouted a few phrases which indicate that the attack was related to the Russian operation in Syria. Turkish authorities believe that the “the instigators of the July coup” were responsible for the murder and that their aim was to undermine relations between the two countries. Meduza shares what is known about the man who killed the Russian ambassador.

Mevlut Altyntash was born in 1994 in the Aydin province. In 2014, he graduated from the police academy in Izmir and joined the special forces in Ankara. At the time of the murder, he was not on duty, but, according to some reports, he used his badge to get arms to the exhibition where the Russian ambassador was speaking.

After the murder, Altyntash shouted phrases in support of Syria. In a mixture of Arabic and Turkish, he shouted “Allahu akbar! Do not forget about Aleppo! Do not forget about Syria! Only death can stop me. Everyone who participated in the oppression will pay for it one after other.” Then Altyntash was shot by police who arrived at the scene. It has been noted that this or a similar slogan is usually used the militants of the Al-Nusra Front, Syria’s branch of al-Qaeda. Until recently, Al-Nusra Front had control of eastern Aleppo, but was then knocked out of the city by Syrian troops being supported by Russia.

Turkish authorities are looking into whether Altyntash was involved in the Gulenist movement, supporters of preacher Fethullah Gulen who has been accused of a coup attempt in July 2016. According to Turkish officials, Altyntash had never been to Syria and not is not believed to had been in contact with any Syrian factions. He did, however, study at one of the schools established by the Gülen movement and took two days off work during the coup attempt in Turkey. Gülen, who is living in the United States, denied involvement in the murder of the Russian ambassador and called such allegations “ridiculous.”

Police are interrogating Altyntash’s relatives and neighbors. His father, mother, and sister have already been detained. The police also took into custody his neighbor, who also serves in Ankara’s special forces, into custody. There is no information that any of the detained individuals had any involvement in the ambassador’s assassination. Altyntash’s apartment has been raided and all of his technological equipment has been seized. Russia’s Investigative Committee is investigating the murder of Ambassador Andrei Karlov as an act of international terrorism.