Russia lays to rest murdered Turkey envoy
with full honors
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[December 22, 2016]
By Peter Hobson
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia staged a somber
memorial ceremony on Thursday for Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador
to Turkey gunned down in Ankara on Monday by a man shouting "Allahu
Akbar" and "Don't forget Aleppo".
Russia and Turkey have branded the assassination a failed attempt to
derail a rapprochement between Moscow and Ankara which has seen them
cooperate more closely over Syria, where they have backed different
sides in the conflict.
Diplomats and family members gathered at the Russian Foreign Ministry, a
looming Stalin-era skyscraper in central Moscow, to bid farewell to
Karlov, who was 62.
TV footage showed Karlov's body lying in an open casket in the
building's marble-clad lobby flanked by a uniformed honor guard as
mourners, including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister
Sergei Lavrov, approached to lay flowers.
Lavrov said Karlov had been murdered on the front line and had been the
victim of "a despicable terrorist act".
President Vladimir Putin also paid his respects, briefly sitting beside
the coffin and speaking to Karlov's widow, who wore a black veil.
Karlov was a Soviet-trained diplomat who worked in North and South Korea
during the 1990s and 2000s and was sent to Turkey in 2013.
His name was etched into a slab of pink marble on the wall of the
Foreign Ministry along with the names of Russia's most illustrious
Proceedings will move to Moscow's gold-domed Christ the Saviour
Cathedral later on Thursday where the head of the Russian Orthodox
Church will lead a ceremony.
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Flag-wrapped coffin of late Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei
Karlov is carried to a plane during a ceremony at Esenboga airport
in Ankara, Turkey, December 20, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
Putin, who has said he knew Karlov personally, has posthumously
given Karlov the Hero of Russia award, the country's highest
"We must know who directed the killer's hand," Putin said after the
murder, promising retribution.
Turkish authorities have identified the assassin as Mevlut Mert
Altintas, 22, who had worked for Ankara's riot police.
President Tayyip Erdogan has blamed the killing on the network of
Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, something Gulen denies. The Kremlin
however has said it is too early to say who stood behind the murder.
Russia has flown a team of investigators to Turkey to help with the
(Editing by Andrew Osborn)
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