A senior Russian MP and Putin ally has said Western countries planned the fatal shooting of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey.
Andrey Karlov was shot dead at an art gallery in Ankara by a man believed to be Mevlűt Mert Altintaş, 22, an off-duty Turkish police officer.
Altintaş reportedly shouted: “We die in Aleppo, you die here”, before shooting the ambassador repeatedly in the back.
The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed shortly after that Mr Karlov had died from his wounds and called the killing “a terrorist act”.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: "Today in Ankara as a result of an attack, the ambassador of the Russian Federation to Turkey, Andrey Gennadyevich Karlov, received a wound from which he died.
“We regard this as a terrorist act."
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who leads the right-wing nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, said the killing was “a false flag operation by the West”.
Mr Zhirinovsky claimed the West orchestrated the shooting to prevent Turkish-Russian rapprochement following a year of tensions, which have gradually eased in recent months.
Other Russian politicians also rushed to link Western governments to the assasination.
Alexey Pushkov, the former head of the foreign affairs committee of the Russian State Duma, or lower house of parliament, claimed the killing was a direct result of media "hysteria" concerning Aleppo, purveyed by "enemies" of Moscow.
Frantz Klintsevich, the deputy chairman of the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament’s defence and security committee, reportedly said the assassination of Mr Karlov was a “true provocation”.
He said: "It was a planned action. Everyone knew that he was going to attend this photo exhibition.
"It can be Isis, or the Kurdish army which tries to hurt Erdogan.
"But may be - and it is highly likely - that representatives of foreign Nato secrets services are behind it.
"What has happened is a true provocation, a challenge. It is a challenge for Russia", he added.
Mr Klintsevich has previously promised a “harsh and unambiguous” response from Russia in response to NATO expansion and said Russia would “aim our weapons, including the nuclear ones” at any countries that seek to join the Western military pact.
The shooting came a day before Russia, Turkey and Iran were due to hold talks over the ongoing conflict in Syria. Russia and Iran have backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while Turkey has supported his enemies.
World leaders and foreign minsters rushed to condemn the assassination. UK Foreign Secretary Boreign Johnson called it "despicable" and "cowardly".
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