The next hearing in the case concerning the murder of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov will take place today at the Second High Criminal Court in Ankara.
On December 19, 2016, Karlov was shot dead at an art exhibition in Ankara by Mevlut Altintas, an off-duty Turkish police officer. The assassination took place at a time when Turkey faced intense political polarisation and volatility in the aftermath of the failed July 2016 coup attempt, leading to multiple theories regarding the motives of the killer. Some have suggested that Altintas was motivated by Russia’s involvement in the Syrian Civil War.
A video taken during the attack shows Altintas yelling “Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!” However, others have pointed out that the murder took place as Turkish-Russian relations were undergoing a period of détente following the failed coup, leading both the Turkish and Russian governments to state that the murder was a provocation aimed at undermining Turkish-Russian rapprochement. The discovery of ByLock—an encrypted messaging service also used by the coup plotters—on Altintas’s phone gave some weight to this assessment.
Expect the hearing to focus on the discovery of ByLock, heightening ever-growing anti-Western sentiment within the Turkish state. Turkish Eurasianists and Russian officials will amalgamate the Karlov case into the narrative against the coup plotters, seeking to present Russia as a more reliable partner for Turkey. The fact that putschists found political refuge in states such as Greece, Germany and the US has only reinforced the budding domestic concept that Turkey’s NATO allies are plotting against it.
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Sinan is an analyst for the Current Developments Team and a regular contributor to the Daily Brief. A student of transatlantic affairs, he specialises in political, economic and energy affairs of Europe and the Middle East.