Andrei Karlov

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Andrei Karlov
Андрей Карлов
Karlov in 2016
Russian Ambassador to Turkey
In office
12 July 2013 – 19 December 2016
PresidentVladimir Putin
Preceded byVladimir Ivanovsky
Succeeded byAlexei Yerkhov
Russian Ambassador to North Korea
In office
9 July 2001 – 20 December 2006
PresidentVladimir Putin
Preceded byValery Denisov
Succeeded byValery Sukhinin
Personal details
Andrei Gennadyevich Karlov

(1954-02-04)4 February 1954
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Died19 December 2016(2016-12-19) (aged 62)
Ankara, Turkey
Manner of deathAssassination
Marina Mikhailovna
(m. 1975)
Alma materMoscow State Institute of International Relations
AwardsHero of the Russian Federation (posthumously)

Andrei Gennadyevich Karlov (Russian: Андрей Геннадьевич Карлов; 4 February 1954 – 19 December 2016) was a Russian diplomat who served as the Russian ambassador to Turkey and earlier as the Russian ambassador to North Korea.[1]

On the evening of 19 December 2016, while speaking at an art gallery exhibition in Ankara, Turkey, Karlov was assassinated by Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, an off-duty Turkish policeman.[2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Karlov was born in Moscow on 4 February 1954 to Gennady Karlov and Maria Alexandrovna.[4][5] He also had a sister named Yelena Shirankova who was 6 years younger than him. In 1968, Karlov's father died at the age of 37 from heart failure when Karlov was 14 years old.

In 1976, Karlov graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. That same year, he joined the diplomatic service.

He was also fluent in Korean and English.[6]


In 1992, he graduated from the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry. He was fluent in Korean, and served in different roles in the Soviet embassy in North Korea from 1979 to 1984, and 1986 to 1991. Between 1992 and 1997 he worked in the Russian embassy in South Korea, and served as Russia's ambassador to North Korea from June 2001 to December 2006.[1] While serving as ambassador to North Korea, he was instrumental in the building of the Church of the Life-Giving Trinity, a Russian Orthodox church in Pyongyang, through discussions with Kim Jong-il. The church was consecrated in 2006.[7]

From 2006 to 2008, Karlov served as Deputy Director of the Consular Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry. He was later promoted as director of the department and served from January 2009 until December 2012. Later, he was appointed ambassador to Turkey in July 2013.[4]

Karlov was ambassador to Turkey during a tumultuous period between the two countries. Russia and Turkey experienced their worst diplomatic crisis in recent years following the shooting down of a Russian jet in November 2015, after Turkey claimed it had violated its airspace. Russia–Turkey relations were severely strained after the incident, with Russia posing economic sanctions and travel restrictions for its citizens. Karlov blamed Turkey for the crisis, and it was not until June 2016 that diplomatic relations were normalized. During an interview two months after the incident, Karlov also claimed there was no evidence that Russian warplanes were bombing civilians in Syria.[8][9][10]


Karlov's widow (centre), his mother (left), his son (far right) and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov (right) during the funeral ceremony at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, 22 December 2016

On 19 December 2016, at 20:15, Karlov was shot and fatally wounded by Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, a 22-year-old off-duty Turkish police officer, at an art exhibition in Ankara, Turkey.[11] The attacker, who was dressed in a suit and tie, opened fire at Karlov at point-blank range while the ambassador was delivering his speech in front of journalists, fatally wounding the ambassador and injuring several others. The attacker gained access to the gallery after he showed his police ID to security guards.[3]

A video of the attack showed the assassin crying out: "Don't forget Aleppo, don't forget Syria!" and "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greatest) while holding a gun in one hand and waving the other in the air in the tawhid salute.[12] The assailant shouted in Arabic and Turkish.[3] Altıntaş was subsequently shot by Turkish security forces.[13] Both were rushed to hospital, but they died from their injuries.[3]

The assassination took place after a long period of highly polarized and incited political atmosphere in Turkey,[14][15] and after several days of protests by Islamist elements of the Turkish public against Russian involvement in the Syrian Civil War and the battle over Aleppo,[16] as well as recent negotiations between Russian and Turkish governments for a ceasefire.[3] The Russian president Vladimir Putin described the assassination as an attempt to damage Turkish–Russian ties.[17] Both Turkish and Russian officials declared the Gülen movement to be responsible for the assassination.[18] Meanwhile the Army of Conquest, which includes the Al-Nusra Front, claimed responsibility for the assassination, according to Russian News Agency TASS.[19]

Andrei Karlov is the fourth Russian ambassador to have died in the line of duty since the 1829 murder of Alexander Griboyedov in Tehran. Before Karlov, Soviet diplomat Vatslav Vorovsky was assassinated in Lausanne in 1923,[20] and Pyotr Voykov, a Soviet envoy to Poland, was also shot to death in Warsaw in 1927.[21]

Personal life[edit]

In 1975, Karlov married Marina Mikhailovna and together they had a son Gennady who was born a few years later. Gennady graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations and served in the consulate department in the Russian embassy in North Korea.[4] Andrei Karlov was an Orthodox Christian.[7]

Awards and legacy[edit]

Karlov on a Russian stamp issued in 2017
Monument to Andrey Karlov on Andrey Karlov Street in Demre, Turkey

Karlov was awarded the Order of Seraphim of Sarov, 3rd degree, for his role in establishing a Russian Orthodox Church in Pyongyang while ambassador to North Korea.[22] On 21 December 2016, two days after his death, he was posthumously awarded the title of Hero of the Russian Federation by the Kremlin.[23]

The city of Ankara announced that the exhibition hall where Karlov was assassinated would be renamed in his memory. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Karyağdı Street in Ankara – where the Russian embassy is located – will also be similarly renamed after Karlov.[24][25][26] Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he has requested that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs "make a proposal for the perpetuation of [Karlov's] memory".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Curriculum Vitae of H.E. Andrey Karlov, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Turkey". Embassy of the Russian Federation in Turkey. Archived from the original on 6 July 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  2. ^ Arango, Tim; Gladstone, Rick (19 December 2016). "Russian Ambassador to Turkey Is Assassinated in Ankara". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Russian ambassador Andrei Karlov shot and injured in Turkey". BBC News. 19 December 2016.
  4. ^ a b c "Посол России в Турции Андрей Карлов. Досье" [Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov. dossier]. 19 December 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  5. ^ "Посол России в Турции скончался после нападения в Анкаре" [Russian Ambassador in Turkey dead after an attack in Ankara] (in Russian). 19 December 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  6. ^ Gripper, Ann (20 December 2016). "Andrei Karlov profile: Russia's man in Turkey and a lifelong diplomat". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 17 July 2021.
  7. ^ a b Balashov, Archpriest Nikolai; Golovko, Oksana (20 December 2016). "Андрей Карлов звонил мне из бронепоезда Ким Чен Ира". Pravoslavie i Mir (in Russian). Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  8. ^ "Посол РФ: ждем шагов Турции для нормализации отношений". RIA Novosti. 9 February 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  9. ^ "Russia closes 'crisis chapter' with Turkey". Al Jazeera. 29 June 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  10. ^ Harding, Luke (19 December 2016). "Andrei Karlov: Russia's ambassador to Turkey at time of diplomatic thaw". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  11. ^ Catherine E. Shoichet & Nick Thompson, Russia's ambassador to Turkey assassinated in Ankara, CNN (19 December 2016).
  12. ^ Tuvan Gumrukcu & Umit Bektas, Russian ambassador shot dead in Ankara gallery, Reuters (19 December 2016).
  13. ^ Umar, Farooq; King, Laura (19 December 2016). "Off-duty police officer identified in fatal shooting of Russia's ambassador to Turkey". Sun-Sentinel. Archived from the original on 12 March 2020. Retrieved 19 December 2016. The assailant, identified by Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu as a 22-year-old riot policeman, was himself gunned down by security forces.
  14. ^ Soner Cagaptay (5 October 2015). "Turkey Is in Serious Trouble". The Atlantic. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  15. ^ Soner Cagaptay (20 December 2016). "Turkey's permanent state of crisis". Washington Post. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  16. ^ "'Russia, get out of Syria': Thousands join protest on Turkey border". Middle East Eye. 17 December 2016. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  17. ^ "Putin speaks out after Russian ambassador killing". The Independent. 19 December 2016. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  18. ^ "Prosecutors seek life sentence for defendants in Russian ambassador's killing". Hürriyet Daily News. 5 March 2020. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  19. ^ "Media: Jaish al-Fatah claims responsibility for murder of Russian ambassador". Russian News Agency TASS. 21 December 2016.
  20. ^ "Vatslav Vorovsky". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  21. ^ Bromwich, Jonah Engel (19 December 2016). "Who Was Andrey Karlov, the Russian Ambassador Killed in Turkey?". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  22. ^ "Погибший на посту". Prikhody (in Russian). 21 December 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  23. ^ "Андрею Карлову присвоено звание Героя Российской Федерации". (in Russian). 21 December 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  24. ^ "Выставочный зал, где был убит посол РФ, назовут его именем". ТАСС (in Russian). 20 December 2016. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  25. ^ "Улицу в Анкаре назовут в честь Карлова – ИА REGNUM". ИА REGNUM (in Russian). 20 December 2016. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  26. ^ "Turkish police detain six after Russian ambassador shot dead". Reuters. 20 December 2016. Retrieved 21 December 2016.

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