Putin says Russians in Turkey ‘may be facing serious danger’

Putin says Russians in Turkey ‘may be facing serious danger’

Putin says Russians in Turkey ‘may be facing serious danger’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) greets Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) during the 'Welcoming Ceremony' prior to the G20 Turkey Leaders Summit on November 15, 2015 in Antalya AFP PHOTO/ POOL / CEM OKSUZ

Russian nationals staying in Turkey may be facing serious danger, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said, a day after Turkey downed a Russian Su-24 fighter jet on its border with Syria due to an alleged airspace violation.

“After yesterday’s event, we cannot rule out other incidents and if they happen, we will have to respond somehow. Our citizens in Turkey could, certainly, be in serious danger,” Putin was quoted as saying by the TASS News Agency, while also accusing Turkey’s government of trying to Islamicize the country.

Putin said he supported Foreign Ministry recommendations urging Russians not to visit Turkey.

“After such tragic events as the downing of our plane and the pilot’s [Oleg Peshkov] death, this is a forced measure and the Foreign Ministry is right to warn our nationals of the dangers,” Putin said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Nov. 24, hours after the downing of the Russian jet by Turkish warplanes, that he recommended that Russians traveling to Turkey suspend their plans. 

“The critical mass of terrorist incidents on Turkish soil, according to our estimates, is no less of a threat than in Egypt,” Lavrov said in televised comments on Nov. 24. 

“For this reason of course we do not recommend that our citizens travel to Turkey for tourism or any other reason,” Lavrov said, speaking from Sochi.

Putin said the current leadership of Turkey purposefully supported the country’s Islamization.

“The problem is not in the tragedy we faced yesterday, the problem is much deeper,” the Putin told reporters. “We see, and not only we – I assure you that the entire world sees it – that the current leadership of Turkey has been for a number of years pursuing a purposeful policy of support and the Islamization of the country.”

Putin noted that Islam was a great world religion, which was one of the traditional religions, including in Russia. “We ourselves support Islam and will continue doing so, but the point at issue is the support of a more radical branch. And that in itself creates a very unfavorable environment – an atmosphere that one cannot see at first sight,” Putin said.

Russia’s Federal Tourism Agency has asked the country’s tour operators to suspend selling holiday packages to Turkey. Some 10,000 Russian vacationers are currently there.

Ankara claimed that the Russian warplane had violated Turkey’s air space while the Russian Defense Ministry said the Su-24 was flying above Syria.

Both pilots ejected but Peshkov was killed by gunfire from the ground. The other pilot, Konstantin Murakhtin, was rescued by Russian and Syrian forces and brought to Russia’s air base in the area. Another Russian soldier, Alexander Pozynich, was killed by insurgents in Syria while participating in a rescue mission to find the pilots of the warplane.