Professional Diplomat Who Became a Terrorist’s Target: Who Was Andrey Karlov?

Andrey Gennadievich Karlov was the Russian ambassador to Turkey. Only a few minutes into a public speech at the Ankara Center for Contemporary Art, Karlov was reportedly shot in the back nine times by Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, a 22-year-old Turkish police officer. Karlov died of his wounds shortly afterward.

According to the official website of the Russian embassy in Turkey, Andrey Karlov was born in 1954. After graduating from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in 1976, Karlov became a Soviet ambassador to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, also known as North Korea. In 1992 he moved to the embassy in the Republic of Korea (ROK), or South Korea. In 2001 he was promoted to Russia’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in ROK, the highest position a Russian ambassador can hold. Karlov was promoted again in 2007, to Deputy Director General for Consular Affairs, and again to Director General. In July 2013 he returned to the field to become Russia’s ambassador to Turkey. Karlov assumed the office as tensions between Russia and Turkey began to reach a fever pitch over the Syrian civil war. Russia officially backed the government of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey threw its weight behind the rebel factions trying to oust him. In November 2015, a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber that the Turkish government claimed had ignored warnings that it was violating Turkish airspace. They also claimed not to have known the nationality of the plane until after they shot it down. The Russians claimed that the bomber never entered Turkish airspace, nor were the pilots warned before the Turks opened fire. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the incident, which claimed the life of one of the pilots, a “stab in the back by terrorist accomplices.” It signaled a souring of Russo-Turkish relations. December 1, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the concluding news conference in Ankara © Sputnik/ Michael Klimentyev Putin, Erdogan Speak Over Phone After Murder of Russian Ambassador in Ankara However, after the failed coup attempt in June 2016, when Russia firmly supported the legitimate government of Turkey, relations drastically improved. President Erdogan publicly apologized for the incident with the Russian military aircraft and the two countries pledged to work together in Syria, though acknowledging differences. In a December 16 statement, Karlov said that Russo-Turkish relations had renormalized as the two nations collaborate to evacuate civilians from the war torn city despite backing opposite sides of the Syrian Civil War. “In the last three months, our presidents Putin and Erdoğan met three times and had phone conversations 11 times. President Putin has not spoken with any other world leader as often as he has spoken with President Erdoğan,” said Karlov. Karlov was married with children, and was fluent in both English and Korean. He was 62 years old.

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