Russian Ambassador to Turkey's Assassination: A Bullet from Aleppo?

Ankara panorama. Creative commons.

Ankara panorama. Creative commons.

The assassination December 19 of Russia's ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov as captured in photographs from inside Ankara's contemporary art museum had a haunting aesthetic.

Set against the background of the museum's white walls studded with bright paintings, the killing looked like it might itself be some work of performance art. That notion is quickly dispelled when watching the video from the same event where the gunshot and screams in the background are clearly audible.

After the shooting the well-dressed 22-year-old assassin policeman Mevlut Mert Atlintas yelled “God is Great” before imploring frightened onlookers not to “forget” Russia's participation in the bombing of Aleppo and other parts of Syria.

Blame game

Soon after the assassination, both Turkey and Russia moved to smooth bilateral relations. While Turkish authorities are predictably linking the event to the disgraced spiritual leader-in-exile and rival of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Fethullah Gulen, at least one Russian lawmaker has claimed the shooting may have been a NATO-hatched plot.

The Jeish al-Fath militant group in Syria has stepped forward to claim responsibility for the killing, but there are doubts as to whether their claim is credible.

Russian opposition politician Dmitri Gudkov had his own take on the event in a well-shared article on that stressed the self-destructive nature of Russia's involvement in the war:

Зачем эта война? На ней практически каждый день секретно гибнут россияне. Не стоит ли сделать инвестицию в собственное будущее и попытаться остановить мясорубку? Хотя бы остановить в ней участие России?

Напомню еще об одной вещи: о дороге, которая привела к убийству в Анкаре. Извилистый, неочевидный путь, события в котором кажутся совершенно случайными, никак не связанными друг с другом и в то же время выстраивающимися в неумолимую в своем безумии логику.

Начать здесь (надо же откуда-то начать, хотя корни всегда уходят глубже) стоит с убийства в СИЗО Сергея Магнитского, повлекшего за собой первые западные санкции. Ответом на них стал «закон подлецов», четырехлетие которого наступает 21 декабря. Вслед за санкциями российская власть пошла в пике: началось обострение с США.

Еще можно было остановиться, не продолжать этот конфликт, но нет. Терять оказалось нечего, и на волне «возрождения страны» в пику «западным партнерам» появились Крым и Донбасс. Новые санкции. Все большая изоляция. «Бук». Попытка огрызнуться — контрсанкции. Удар по власти изнутри — антикоррупционные расследования о прогнившей верхушке, от прокуратуры до правительства. Снова ответ: во всем виноват Браудер.

Осажденная крепость, кругом враги и при этом попытка с позиции силы доказать, что без России никак.

Сирия. Обменять все санкции скопом на нее. Попытка не удалась, безнадежная война, еще глубже в болото. Все новые трупы, конфликт с Турцией, помидоры, ТрампНаш…

Каждым этим намерением (далеко не благим) была вымощена дорога к убийству в Анкаре. Не случись когда-то дела Магнитского — не было бы первых санкций. Не было бы их — не было бы охлаждения, без него не случилась бы Украина…

Еще не поздно остановиться. Никогда не поздно. Нам хватает и внутренних проблем, чтобы самим создавать себе все новые и новые внешние.

Why this war? In it almost every day Russians die in secret. Should we not make an investment in their own future and try to stop the slaughter? Or at least stop Russia's participation in it?

Let me remind you about one thing: the road that led to this murder in Ankara. A twisting, obfuscating road along which events that seem to be completely random and unconnected with each other at the same time point towards an inexorable logic amid the madness.

Start here (one must start somewhere, although the roots almost always go deeper): the murder in jail of [rights lawyer] Sergei Magnitsky that resulted in the first Western sanctions [against Russia]. The [Russian] answer to them was the “law of scoundrels”, which will mark it's four year-anniversary on December 21. After the sanctions Russian-US relations went into tailspin.

The conflict could have been reined in, but no. There was seemingly nothing to lose at this point, and “the revival of the country” in opposition to “our Western partners” came with [the invasions of] Crimea and [Eastern Ukraine]. Then, there were new sanctions. Then increasing isolation. The “Buk” [missile that downed the MH-17]. Counter-sanctions. […]

A fortress besieged, surrounded by enemies, and at the same time an attempt to find a position of strength from which to prove that the world still needed Russia.

Syria. [It was needed] to push back the sanctions. But the attempt failed, and a hopeless war sank ever deeper into the swamp. Fresh corpses, the conflict with Turkey, [bans on the import of Turkish] tomatoes, [support] to Trump.

All of these intentions (and they were not kind) has paved the way for the murder in Ankara. Without the Magnitsky case, the first sanctions would not have happened. Without them, relations would not have cooled and Ukraine would not have happened.

Still, it is not too late to stop. It's never too late. We have enough internal problems without adding external problems onto them.


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