Russia mourned its slain ambassador to Turkey at a ceremony Thursday at the Foreign Ministry in Moscow.
An off-duty police officer shot Ambassador Andrei Karlov on Monday in Ankara. Karlov’s coffin was surrounded by wreaths and a military honor guard as seated family members looked on from the side and people approached to pay their respects.
Among the dignitaries in attendance were President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the assassination was “no doubt” carried out by a member of the network of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.
“There is no need to make a secret out of the fact he was a member of FETO,” Erdogan said at a news conference Wednesday, using Ankara’s preferred acronym for Gulen’s group.
Turkey claims Gulen link
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a phone call earlier this week that Turkey believes the killer is linked to Gulen, who lives in the United States and has also been blamed for July’s failed coup in Turkey.
But Wednesday’s news conference marked the first time the president had publicly made that claim.
Gulen condemned the attack earlier this week, and the United States has rejected what it called “absolutely ridiculous” suggestions that it was involved in or supported the assassination because of Gulen’s presence in the U.S.
Russia said earlier Wednesday it is too early to draw conclusions about the shooter.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday there should be no rush to conclusions before a joint investigation of the assassination is complete.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday that Kerry raised concerns about “some of the rhetoric coming out of Turkey” in his call with Cavusoglu.
“We need to let the investigators do their job and we need to ... let the facts and the evidence take them where it is before we jump to conclusions,” Kirby told reporters. “But any notion that the United States was in any way supportive of this or behind this or even indirectly involved is absolutely ridiculous.”
Karlov was attending the opening of an art exhibition when the gunman shot him. A witness told VOA the shooter shouted: “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria! As long as our lands aren’t safe, you will not be safe!”
The shooter has been identified as 22-year-old Mevlut Mert Altintas.
Captured on video