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.
In an extraordinary condemnation, the former defense secretary backs protesters and says the president is trying to turn Americans against one another.
James Mattis, the esteemed Marine general who resigned as secretary of defense in December 2018 to protest Donald Trump’s Syria policy, has, ever since, kept studiously silent about Trump’s performance as president. But he has now broken his silence, writing an extraordinary broadside in which he denounces the president for dividing the nation, and accuses him of ordering the U.S. military to violate the constitutional rights of American citizens.
“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” Mattis writes. “The words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.” He goes on, “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.”
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.
Our fellow citizens are not the enemy, and must never become so.
It sickened me yesterday to see security personnel—including members of the National Guard—forcibly and violently clear a path through Lafayette Square to accommodate the president's visit outside St. John's Church. I have to date been reticent to speak out on issues surrounding President Trump's leadership, but we are at an inflection point, and the events of the past few weeks have made it impossible to remain silent.
Whatever Trump's goal in conducting his visit, he laid bare his disdain for the rights of peaceful protest in this country, gave succor to the leaders of other countries who take comfort in our domestic strife, and risked further politicizing the men and women of our armed forces.
As Americans continue to protest and Trump calls for “domination,” the former president felt compelled to intervene.
Updated at 9:26 a.m. ET on June 4, 2020.
Barack Obama didn’t want to outshine Joe Biden. He never wants to be seen as speaking for all black Americans.
But the former president was too worried about the condition of the country to stay silent about George Floyd’s death and the protests that have followed. It was going to take more than the statement he put out on Friday, writing that Floyd’s killing “shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in America in 2020,” for him to feel that he’d done his duty. The essay he published on Monday, urging reforms? One hundred and ninety-four thousand “claps” on Medium, for whatever that’s worth. The tweet he sent as the sun went down on Monday night, a few minutes after Donald Trump returned from gassing protesters to make way for his Bible photo op, with a video of Floyd’s brother saying, “Let’s do this another way”? It has 650,000 likes and counting. He still had more to say, and his closest advisers believed that he needed to say it. Tuesday morning, the former president and his aides started scrambling to set up an event for him to host yesterday afternoon—and to arrange the sit-down Zoom speech that CNN and MSNBC carried live.
In the time that U.S. deaths have increased from 100 to more than 100,000, the S&P 500 has gone up 20 percent.
In an age punctuated with almost biblical chaos—plague, brutality, and surreal images of the president posing with a holy book he fumbles like a strange cut of meat—there has been one queasy and bizarre constant: “... and stocks rose.” On Wednesday, U.S. deaths from COVID-19 officially surpassed 100,000, and stocks rose. On Friday, the Commerce Department reported that GDP plummeted nearly 5 percent in the first three months of the year, and stocks rose. Over the weekend, Americans took to the streets of large cities and small towns to protest the killing of George Floyd and call for an end to years of police brutality and systemic racism against black Americans, as their mostly peaceful movements were often attacked by police and beset by chaos tourists smashing the windows of local stores. And stocks rose.
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.
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.
To be black and conscious of anti-black racism is to stare into the mirror of your own extinction.
Ibram X. Kendi and Yoni Appelbaum will discuss policing, protests, and this moment in history, live at 2 p.m. ET on June 4. Register for The Big Story EventCast here.
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.
American conspiracy theories are entering a dangerous new phase.
If you were an adherent, no one would be able to tell. You would look like any other American. You could be a mother, picking leftovers off your toddler’s plate. You could be the young man in headphones across the street. You could be a bookkeeper, a dentist, a grandmother icing cupcakes in her kitchen. You may well have an affiliation with an evangelical church. But you are hard to identify just from the way you look—which is good, because someday soon dark forces may try to track you down. You understand this sounds crazy, but you don’t care. You know that a small group of manipulators, operating in the shadows, pull the planet’s strings. You know that they are powerful enough to abuse children without fear of retribution. You know that the mainstream media are their handmaidens, in partnership with Hillary Clinton and the secretive denizens of the deep state. You know that only Donald Trump stands between you and a damned and ravaged world.
The president didn’t cause America’s policing crisis, but he deliberately made it worse.
When the Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin dug his knee into the back of George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes while Floyd pleaded for help, he was merely following the president’s advice.
“Please don’t be too nice,” Donald Trump told an audience of police officers on Long Island in 2017, in a speech largely focused on the MS-13 gang. The audience laughed. “When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough. I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’”
Floyd’s killing has sparked nationwide protests, despite the fact that the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 100,000 Americans and left 40 million without work, is still killing about 1,000 people a day in the United States. Those Americans who were disproportionately dying from a plague came out in force to protest being murdered by their government.Trump, who ran as the “law and order” candidate, now presides over the very “American carnage” he vowed to end.