Russian woman detained in connection with Ambassador Karlov assassination

Mert Mevlut Altintas stands behind Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov moments before he gunned him down in an art gallery in Ankara, 19 December 2016.

A Russian citizen has been detained in connection with the assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, a Turkish enforcement officer told Sputnik.

The woman was detained in Ankara on suspicion of having contact with off-duty Turkish police officer Mevlut Mert Altinas, who killed Karlov at an art exhibition in Ankara on 19 December 2016.

The detained suspect, named only as 33-year-old Ekaterina, is thought to have made telephone contact and exchanged Whatsapp messages with Altintas in November, a month before the killing.

Altintas fired several rounds at Karlov from close range before shouting, “Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria. As long as our cities are not safe you are not safe!”

Some reports suggested the 22-year-old police officer had ties with jihadist groups in Syria, while Turkish authorities insinuated that he could have connections with the Fethullah Gulen movement, accused of being behind Turkey’s coup attempt. A claim denied by the man’s family.

Commentators also argued that the Altintas being a police officer was a sign of the Islamisation of Turkey’s security institutions during the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s time in government. The incident came shortly after the defeat of Turkey-backed rebel groups in Aleppo, some of whom were evacuated from the Syrian city following a deal between Ankara and Moscow.

The Turkish government said the attack was aimed at sabotaging recovering ties between Turkey and Russia on the eve of Astana talks, which then went ahead.

Altintas was shot and killed by other police officers at the scene of the incident.

The Russian Embassy in Ankara has not commented on the development yet.