Russia lays to rest murdered Turkey envoy with full honours

Russia lays to rest murdered Turkey envoy with full honours
PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW - Russia staged a sombre 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 co-operate more closely over Syria, where they have backed different sides in the conflict.

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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 honour guard as mourners, including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, approached to lay flowers.

President Vladimir Putin is also expected to pay his respects at the ministry.

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.

Russian ambassador to Turkey shot dead (Warning, disturbing content)

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    Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov makes a speech at an art gallery shortly before he was shot in Ankara, Turkey, December 19, 2016.

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    Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov lies on the ground after he was shot by Mevlut Mert Altintas (man standing with gun) at an art gallery in Ankara, Turkey, December 19, 2016.

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    Mevlut Mert Altintas is an off-duty police officer who shouted "Don't forget Aleppo" and "Allahu Akbar" as he opened fire.

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    "He took out his gun and shot the ambassador from behind. We saw him lying on the floor and then we ran out," said the witness, who asked not to be identified.

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    A video showed the attacker shouting: "Don't forget Aleppo, don't forget Syria!" and "Allahu Akbar" ("God is Greatest") as screams rang out.

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    He paced about and shouted as he held the gun in one hand and waved the other in the air.

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    The gunman was killed by special forces.

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    Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, director of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Sergei Naryshkin and Alexander Bortnikov, director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on December 19, 2016, few hours after the Russian ambassador to Ankara was shot dead by a gunman during an attack at an art exhibition in Ankara.

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    Flowers lie next to a picture of Russia's ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov outside the Russian foreign ministry in Moscow following his assassination in Ankara on December 19, 2016.

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    Two women pay their respects after laying flowers outside the Russian foreign ministry in Moscow following the assassination of Russia's ambassador to Turkey on December 19, 2016.

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    Turkish policemen stand guard near the Cagdas Sanatlar Merkezi, a major art exhibition hall, where Andrey Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Ankara, has been shot dead on December 19, 2016 in a gun attack during an art exhibition in Ankara.

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    Turkish policemen stand guard near the Cagdas Sanatlar Merkezi.

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    Turkish Minister of Interior, Suleyman Soylu speaks to journalists outside the Private Guven Hospital where Andrey Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Ankara, is treated after being shot by a gunman during an attack at an art exhibition in Ankara.

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    Turkish soldiers and policemen stand guard near the Cagdas Sanatlar Merkezi.

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    Turkish police secure the area near an art gallery where the Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was shot in Ankara, Turkey, December 19, 2016.

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    This handout picture taken on November 16, 2016 and released on December 19, 2016 by the Russian Foreign Ministry, shows Andrey Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Ankara.

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    Turkish soldiers and policemen stand guard near the Cagdas Sanatlar Merkezi.

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    Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu arrives to the art gallery where Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was shot in Ankara, Turkey, December 19, 2016.

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    Turkish police secure the area near an art gallery where the Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was shot in Ankara, Turkey, December 19, 2016.

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 diplomats.

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.

Putin, who has said he knew Karlov personally, has posthumously given Karlov the Hero of Russia award, the country's highest military medal. "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 investigation.

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