Russian and Turkish authorities are investigating the shooting death of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey by an off-duty Turkish police officer. Andrey Karlov, who had served in the job since 2013, was delivering a speech at a photo exhibition in Ankara on Monday when a man shot him in apparent protest of Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war. The gunman, identified as 22-year-old Mevlut Mert Altintas, was later shot and killed by police.
We’re following the news of the assassination here. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
Turkish police on Monday questioned the family of the gunman, 22-year-old Mevlut Mert Altintas, who was shot and killed by police after his attack, the BBC reported Tuesday. Altintas was a member of Ankara’s riot police squad, but was not on duty at the time of the shooting. More from the BBC, citing Turkey’s interior minister:
He said Altintas was born on 24 June 1994 in in the town of Soke in quiet, conservative Aydin province in western Turkey, and attended police college in the coastal city of Izmir to the north.
He had been working in Ankara's riot police department for two-and-a-half years but was apparently on leave at the time of his attack.
… Altintas shaved and put on a suit and tie in a nearby hotel he was staying at prior to Monday's attack.
He set off a metal detector on entering the exhibition, but was waved through after showing his official police ID.
After shooting the ambassador, Altintas waved and pointed his gun at people inside the gallery, and shouted in Arabic and Turkish. He yelled “Allahu Akbar” several times, and said, “Don't forget about Syria, don’t forget about Aleppo. All those who participate in this tyranny will be held accountable.” The shooting came after days of protests in Turkey against Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war and the bombardment of the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Altintas fired 11 times, nine at the ambassador and twice in the air, according to the BBC. Three others were injured in the attack.
The body of Andrey Karlov was transported from Turkey to Russia Tuesday after a ceremony at the Esenboga airport in Ankara. Karlov’s coffin, draped in the Russian flag, was carried by soldiers on the tarmac. Photos from the ceremony showed his wife, Marina, touching the top of the coffin before it was placed on a plane bound for Moscow.
Trump Blames Turkey Attack on 'Radical Islamic Terrorist'
President-elect Donald Trump blamed the assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey on “a radical Islamic terrorist.”
His statement read in full:
Today we offer our condolences to the family and loved ones of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov, who was assassinated by a radical Islamic terrorist. The murder of an ambassador is a violation of all rules of civilized order and must be universally condemned.
The shooter, who was identified as an Ankara police officer, yelled, “We are the descendants of those who supported the Prophet Muhammad, for jihad,” in Arabic at the shooting. Statements from the White House and other countries, though, did not mention Islam. The shooter was killed by police in a standoff.
The presidents of Russia and Turkey said Thursday the fatal shooting of the Russian ambassador to Turkey was a “provocation” intended to hurt the two country’s ties, the AP reports.
In televised remarks, Vladimir Putin described the shooting as a “provocation aimed at derailing Russia-Turkey ties and the peace process in Syria.” Russia supports the Assad government in the Syrian civil war. Russia and Turkey are engaged in talks over the evacuation of civilians from the Syrian city of Aleppo, which has been under constant bombardment for months.
In a video message aired on Turkish TV channels, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the shooting was “a provocation to damage the normalization process of Turkish-Russian relations.”
The White House offered its support to both countries in a statement Thursday. “This heinous attack on a member of the diplomatic corps is unacceptable, and we stand united with Russia and Turkey in our determination to confront terrorism in all of its forms,” said a National Security Council spokesman.
Shooting Follows Days of Turkish Protests Over Syrian War
The shooting of the Russian ambassador comes after a week of protests in Turkey against Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war. On Saturday, crowds gathered near Turkey’s border with Syria chanted, “Murderer Russia, get out of Syria!” and demanded for all sides to allow humanitarian workers access to the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo. The evacuation of thousands of civilians in Aleppo began last week, after the Syrian government wrested control of most of the city from rebel groups, which have held it for four years. The Syrian government, with support from Russia, has bombed all of the city’s hospitals, and residents are low on food and other basic supplies. Humanitarian groups have pleaded to allow for short breaks in the fighting so residents can escape. About 4,500 people were evacuated Monday, bringing the total since last week to 12,000.
AP photographer Burhan Ozbilici was at the photo gallery Monday when gunfire broke out. He continued taking photos after Andrey Karlov was struck and capturing the assailant, who brandished his gun and shouted about the Syrian conflict. “Don’t forget Syria!” he can be heard saying. The gunman was later fatally shot by police. He has not been publicly identified. The AP reports he was a policeman, citing Turkey’s interior ministry.
Andrey Karlov served as Moscow’s ambassador to Ankara since July 2013, but his diplomatic career spanned four decades. The 62-year-old joined the diplomatic service in 1976, serving in Russia’s embassies in both Pyongyang and Seoul. Karlov served as the Russian ambassador to North Korea between 2001 and 2006 before returning to Moscow to head the foreign ministry’s consular affairs department in 2007. He is survived by his wife and son.
Andrey Karlov was delivering a speech at the opening of a photo exhibition in Ankara on Monday when shots rang out. Video footage from the speech and published by Russian media shows the ambassador falling down after being struck. A man dressed in a black suit appears in the frame, holding a gun and shouting. The gunman was shot and killed by police, according to Turkish broadcaster NTV. Karlov was transported to the hospital.
Here’s more on the scene from the AP, according to one of their photographers, who was there:
The ambassador, Andrei Karlov, was several minutes into a speech at the embassy-sponsored exhibition in the capital, Ankara, when a man wearing a suit and tie shouted "Allahu Akbar" and fired at least eight shots, according to an AP photographer in the audience. The attacker also said some words in Russian and smashed several of the photos hung for the exhibition.
Why have Republican leaders abandoned their principles in support of an immoral and dangerous president?
On a cold March afternoon in 1949, Wolfgang Leonhard slipped out of the East German Communist Party Secretariat, hurried home, packed what few warm clothes he could fit into a small briefcase, and then walked to a telephone box to call his mother. “My article will be finished this evening,” he told her. That was the code they had agreed on in advance. It meant that he was escaping the country, at great risk to his life.
Though only 28 years old at the time, Leonhard stood at the pinnacle of the new East German elite. The son of German Communists, he had been educated in the Soviet Union, trained in special schools during the war, and brought back to Berlin from Moscow in May 1945, on the same airplane that carried Walter Ulbricht, the leader of what would soon become the East German Communist Party. Leonhard was put on a team charged with re‑creating Berlin’s city government.
The president’s photo op outside St. John’s Church was emblematic of his appeal to the religious right.
He wielded the Bible like a foreign object, awkwardly adjusting his grip as though trying to get comfortable. He examined its cover. He held it up over his right shoulder like a crossing guard presenting a stop sign. He did not open it.
“Is that your Bible?” a reporter asked.
“It’s a Bible,” the president replied.
Even by the standards of Donald Trump’s religious photo ops, the dissonance was striking. Moments earlier, he had stood in the Rose Garden and threatened to unleash the military on unruly protesters. He used terms such as anarchy and domestic terror, and vowed to “dominate the streets.” To clear the way for his planned post-speech trip to St. John’s Church, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into a crowd of peaceful demonstrators.
The president is stuck in a vicious downward spiral.
We are in the Götterdämmerung now, the final phase of the Trump era. We began with the axis of adults that imperfectly constrained him. We then entered the age of hubris and action during which he systematically rid himself of the adults and was free to follow his whims. The third phase was the reckoning as he began to bump up against the contradictions of his own approach, on China and Iran in particular. Now we have finally arrived at the long-feared crisis and unraveling.
For three chaotic years, Donald Trump muddled through, at least in the eyes of Republicans, buoyed by the strong economy he inherited from his predecessor and powered forward by the long GOP wish list, which included, among many items, judicial appointments, deregulation, and the undoing of the Iran nuclear deal. Virtually every consequential and sympathetic analysis of the Trump administration, though, included a caveat: A serious crisis would upend any Republican progress and test the ill-equipped and vindictive president. Deep down, we all hoped the country would get lucky and slip through these four years without a paradigm-changing incident. But if luck is earned, we had no right to it.
Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.
Clyde Ross was born in 1923, the seventh of 13 children, near Clarksdale, Mississippi, the home of the blues. Ross’s parents owned and farmed a 40-acre tract of land, flush with cows, hogs, and mules. Ross’s mother would drive to Clarksdale to do her shopping in a horse and buggy, in which she invested all the pride one might place in a Cadillac. The family owned another horse, with a red coat, which they gave to Clyde. The Ross family wanted for little, save that which all black families in the Deep South then desperately desired—the protection of the law.
In the 1920s, Jim Crow Mississippi was, in all facets of society, a kleptocracy. The majority of the people in the state were perpetually robbed of the vote—a hijacking engineered through the trickery of the poll tax and the muscle of the lynch mob. Between 1882 and 1968, more black people were lynched in Mississippi than in any other state.
To be black and conscious of anti-black racism is to stare into the mirror of your own extinction.
It happened three months before the lynching of Isadora Moreley in Selma, Alabama, and two months before the lynching of Sidney Randolph near Rockville, Maryland.
On May 19, 1896, TheNew York Times allocated a single sentence on page three to reporting the U.S. Supreme Court’s Plessy v. Ferguson decision. Constitutionalizing Jim Crow hardly made news in 1896. There was no there there. Americans already knew that equal rights had been lynched; Plessy was just the silently staged funeral.
Another racial text—published by the nation’s premier social-science organization, the American Economic Association, and classified by the historian Evelynn Hammonds as “one of the most influential documents in social science at the turn of the 20th century”—elicited more shock in 1896.
The nationwide protests against police killings have been called un-American by critics, but rebellion has always been used to defend liberty.
Since the beginning of this country, riots and violent rhetoric have been markers of patriotism. When our Founding Fathers fought for independence, violence was the clarion call. Phrases such as “Live free or die,” “Give me liberty or give me death,” and “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God” echoed throughout the nation, and continue today. Force and violence have always been used as weapons to defend liberty, because—as John Adams once said in reference to the colonists’ treatment by the British—“We won’t be their Negroes.”
Black rebellion and protest, though, have historically never been coupled with allegiance to American democracy. Today, peaceful demonstrations and violent riots alike have erupted across the country in response to police brutality and the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Yet the language used to refer to protesters has included looters, thugs, and even claims that they are un-American. The philosophy of force and violence to obtain freedom has long been employed by white people and explicitly denied to black Americans.
The pandemic has exposed the bitter terms of our racial contract, which deems certain lives of greater value than others.
Six weeks ago, Ahmaud Arbery went out and never came home. Gregory and Travis McMichael, who saw Arbery running through their neighborhood just outside of Brunswick, Georgia, and who told authorities they thought he was a burglary suspect, armed themselves, pursued Arbery, and then shot him dead.
As the nation convulsed, the White House went dark.
Last night, as protests convulsed Washington, D.C., the White House went dark. All the lights were off. The windows of the president’s official residence were darkened, and the floodlights outside extinguished.
The country is sick, angry, and divided, but it also finds itself leaderless. Trump has never shown any inclination or ability to soothe or console in moments of crisis. He wants the trappings of power, like showing up for a rocket launch, but he doesn’t want to get his hands dirty with the work of governing. And he continues to view himself as the president only of the minority who voted for him, not all Americans. These tendencies have converged in this moment.
Yesterday, when America needed real leadership, the office of the president stood dark—and vacant.
Americans don’t see me, or Ahmaud Arbery, running down the road—they see their fear.
Oakmont beckoned outdoor runners—even novices like me.
We were the second family to move into Oakmont, a new housing development seven miles west of the University of Florida, when I joined the faculty in 2015. My partner and I loved how our living space wrapped around a green-dotted, open-air indoor courtyard like homes we’d seen in West Africa and Latin America. Nothing compared to being outside inside our courtyard home.
Well, maybe being outside in Oakmont—running down its newly paved roads, gazing up at stately oak trees with moss draping down, staring down into the ponds, racing all the galloping or flying animals, all to the sweet melody of quietness. Few houses. No people. Just paved roads. Just nature’s sight lines.
By invoking the word yesterday, Trump erased the purpose of demonstrators across the country. The media should not follow suit.
On Monday evening, in Washington, D.C., a crowd of people protesting the killing of George Floyd were gathered in Lafayette Square, on the north side of the White House. Agents of the state outfitted in riot gear marched up to the group. Mounted police officers formed a barricade in the street. The protesters, their hands raised, chanted: “Don’t shoot.”
The police shot anyway: rubber bullets. Tear gas. The people, turned into targets, ran. CNN reported on the scene, its anchors noting repeatedly how peaceful the protesters had been before the taut calm was broken. And then the network switched to a split screen. On the one side were the protesters, fleeing the militarized police. On the other side was Donald Trump, who had blocked the evening hour to deliver a speech from the White House’s Rose Garden. In it, he threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act, an 1807 law, to deploy federal forces against the protests that have risen in cities across America. He declared his intention to “dominate the streets.”