Russia outraged by award for photo of Turkey ambassador killing
AP photoThe Russian Embassy in Ankara on Feb. 14 expressed anger over the awarding of the prestigious World Press Photo Award for an image of an off-duty Turkish policeman assassinating the Russian envoy to Turkey last year.
The embassy, whose ambassador Andrey Karlov was shot dead in the Dec. 19 killing, said the decision by the jury showed a “complete degradation of ethics and moral values.”
“Propaganda of the horror of terrorism is unacceptable,” it said in a statement on its official Facebook page.
The famous image was taken by Burhan Özbilici, a photographer for the Associated Press, who stood his ground as 22-year-old policeman Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş killed Karlov at the opening of an Ankara exhibition.
Jurors commended the courage of the photographer and symbolic resonance of the picture but the choice split the jury, with its president Stuart Franklin opposing the choice.
“Placing the photograph on this high pedestal is an invitation to those contemplating such staged spectaculars,” Franklin wrote in the Guardian.
Professor Özer Kanburoğlu of Istanbul Aydın University said that when he first saw the photo of Özbilici, the famous image of the Viet Cong suspect seconds before he was shot dead, captured by photographer Eddie Adams, immediately came to mind.
“I think this picture [Adams’] was not ethical because Adams could have prevented the execution. Even after Adams’ death this issue is still being debated,” said Kanburoğlu.
Meanwhile, the head of the foreign affairs committee of the Russian senate Konstantin Kosachev said the choice was “on the edge of morality” and asked “how many more terrorists could be inspired by this photo”, RIA Novosti reported.
Altıntaş was killed at the scene by Turkish security forces.
Authorities claimed that he could be part of the Gülen network led by the U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gülen, who Ankara blames for the failed July 15, 2016 coup attempt. Russia, which sent an investigation team to Ankara after the killing, has yet to back this conclusion.
The street in Ankara where the embassy is located was recently renamed after Karlov.