''I have questions to those who were to ensure the safety of the Russian diplomat in the troubled region''
A political scientist and Orientalist Gumer Isaev tells about Kurdish and Gülenist trace in the assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey
Before the opening of the exhibit of photographs ''Russia: from Kaliningrad to Kamchatka, through the eyes of travellers'' in Ankara Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov was assassinated. In an interview to Realnoe Vremya, a political scientist and Orientalist Gumer Isaev told why the killer should not be automatically attributed to the Kurds or Gülen movement. Besides, the expert reminds what steps of the Turkish authorities against Russia were unnoticed at the time when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was giving vague promises.
''How could they allow an armed person to a cultural event?''
Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov has recently been killed in Turkey. What consequences can be for the Russian-Turkish relations?
In my opinion, the tragic murder of the Russian Ambassador is a consequence of the difficult situation that is taking place in the Middle East, in Turkey and Syria in particular. The murder of the chief representative of Russia in Turkey, of course, will long remain a black stain in relations between the two nations — the memories of other recent events associated with the downed Russian aircraft are still fresh in mind. Murders of diplomats in the history of international relations have always been considered one of the despicable crimes and often it was a serious reason for deterioration of relations between the countries.
I have questions to those who were to provide security for the Russian diplomat in the troubled region. Why the intelligence has not worked out? Warnings about the threats to life of the diplomats in Istanbul and Ankara have repeatedly been declared over the last two years. Diplomatic missions were curtailed for some time, family members were evacuated. Russia is being involved in the Syrian civil war, and they should understand that the security of Russian diplomats (and the Russians) in the Middle East today must be provided with special emphasis. Therefore, there are serious claims to our intelligence services, as well as to the Turkish ones, say nothing of those who simply were to provide security at the entrance. How could they admit an armed man at a cultural event, who was able to kill the Russian diplomat in cold blood?
If to talk about big-league politics, this event probably should be considered as a provocation aimed at disrupting the agreements on Syria. The last few months Russia and Turkey more or less have agreed on the Syrian issue. We see this in the rhetoric of our political leaders, in the rhetoric of the state media, which are fairly restrained in their criticism of the Turkish authorities, although the reasons for criticism do exist. Erdogan has made concessions on some issues — pro-Turkish rebels have left Aleppo, profitable Turkish Stream will be realised. In return, the Turks received an opportunity to act in Syrian Kurdistan. And now, on the eve of an important meeting on Syria between Iran, Russia and Turkey, in Ankara such a provocation takes place…
''Russia is being involved in the Syrian civil war, and they should understand that the security of Russian diplomats (and the Russians) in the Middle East today must be provided with special attention. Therefore, there are serious claims to our intelligence services, as well as to the Turkish ones.'' Photo: kapital-rus.ru
I would also like to highlight an important point: Turkish and other Middle Eastern, as well as Western, media are informing in detail about the tragic events in neighbouring Syria, focusing on the sufferings of the civilians. Of course, this creates the background that affects people with certain worldview, who believes that Russia is responsible for death of civilians in Syria. Perhaps, you remember what the terrorist who murdered the Ambassador was shouting. That it was a revenge for children of Aleppo.
It is already known that he has recently been dismissed from the police and probably for this reason he had a sense of deprivation. Judging by his pages on the social networks, he was no stranger to the appeals of radical ideologues. It is possible that under the influence of all these factors, he decided that he could take over the function of an avenger for the events in Syria. We will follow the investigation, which may lead to the identification of the group of conspirators.
''As for the Kurdish version, it is unclear why he shouted slogans associated with Aleppo''
Turkish media was forbidden to cover this incident. What is the reason for this ban? Does this mean that the government is currently forming its ''right'' point of view on the events in order to present it to the public later?
Unfortunately, after every serious event, the social networks and media in Turkey have been actually blocked lately. My colleagues also wrote to me that there is no access to several websites. In fact, the media are trying to shape the necessary for the authorities agenda: as well as they shaped the agenda on Russian actions in Syria, so they are now trying to direct the investigation and public opinion in the specific scenario. Now the Turkish leadership has a list of enemies, whom it is possible to blame for everything that is happening. So, I think we can assume that we will soon hear some confessions and high-profile disclosures.
In the Turkish sources there is conflicting information about who is the murderer. First, they said that it was a dismissed police officer, then that he was a Kurd, and then a supporter of Gülen. What do you think about these versions?
There was information that on the page in Facebook the killer had videos of radical nature. In my opinion, nothing directly indicates that he was a Kurd or a supporter of Gülen. He worked in the police and he was dismissed during the purges after the coup attempt. But a huge number of people were dismissed for different reasons in these purges. It does not mean that if he was dismissed he is a Gülenist automatically. So far no signs that he was. If to know the ideological orientation of the Gülen movement, we can see that there is no incitement to violence, especially political.
As for the Kurdish version, it is unclear why he shouted slogans associated with Aleppo? And why would the Kurds kill the Russian Ambassador? If he would shouted some slogans in defense of Gülen, or some others to help Kurdistan, probably, it would be obvious. But if you remember, he talked about Aleppo. He expressed the point of view, the sentiments of those people in Turkey who believe that Erdogan betrayed Aleppo, Erdoğan had a conspiracy with Russia. Some people think that Turkey and Russia have coordinated their positions on Syria. At least at this stage. Many pro-Turkish militants have left Aleppo — they were taken in buses to a safe place. That is, some agreement did take place between Russia and Turkey. Of course, it has many opponents. A good historical analogy is the murder of German Ambassador Mirbach by the Red Army Faction in 1918, who thus tried to disrupt the Brest Treaty, signed between the Bolsheviks and Germany. I think in this case the killer could be a representative if not a specific movement or group that of people in Turkey who believe that there has been a betrayal of Aleppo.
''Very weird actions are taking place in the context of Russian-Turkish relations''
In your opinion, how strongly will the incident affect the tourism industry?
I think this it would be more appropriate to talk about an impact of this tragic incident in the context of the difficult situation in Turkey. Just a few days ago a major terrorist attack in the east of the country took place. Before that, there had been a bloody terrorist attack right in the central region near the stadium of Besiktas. I think all of these events continue to have a negative impact on the tourism industry, which is experiencing difficult times. Despite the fact that Russian tourists still have the opportunity to go to Turkey, these flows will not be the same anymore. Of course, the death of the chief representative in Turkey, I am sure, will have a negative psychological impact on the Turkish-Russian relations, at least at the household level. Someone will just refuse to travel to Turkey because if they could kill the main representative of Russia, then what about ordinary tourists? Thank God, there have not been attacks on Russian tourists in Turkey.
''Nationalization of Akfel is also an unfriendly step from the point of view of the economy. It is clear that it has been made on the pretext of purging disloyal people to the authorities. However, I think that <…> it is necessary for the Russian side to be mindful of the protection of their interests in this country.'' Photo: akfelgaz.com
At the same time, it is known that Turkey is nationalizing Akfel Holduing — the importer of natural gas, in which a stake is owned by Gazprom. Will there be a new gas crisis?
Yes, the situation in this area is extremely important for Russia. It should be noted that there are some very weird actions in the context of Russian-Turkish relations, because the nationalization of Akfel is also an unfriendly step from the point of view of the economy. It is clear that it has been made on the pretext of purging disloyal people to the authorities. However, I think that against the backdrop of these processes that are taking place in Turkey, it is necessary for the Russian side to be mindful of the protection of their interests in this country. For example, it has been left unnoticed the closure of the Turkish-Russian cultural foundation in Istanbul, in terms of détente no one paid attention to this rather unpleasant, in my opinion, episode in the Russian-Turkish relations. Everyone was busy apologizing to Erdogan and his visits to Russia, vague promises.