02:12 GMT +320 August 2019
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    Tahir Elci, the head of Diyarbakir Bar Association, speaks to the media shortly before being killed in Diyarbakir, Turkey

    Wild Imagination: Turkish Paper Looks for ‘Moscow’s Hand’ in Lawyer’s Death

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    A prominent pro-Kurdish lawyer was shot dead on Saturday in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakir. A pro-government newspaper was quick to look for “a Russian trace.”

    Tahir Elci, the chairman of the Diyarbakir Bar Association, was speaking at a news conference at a historic mosque in the old city of Diyabakir, in southeastern Turkey.

    He called attention to the damage done to historic buildings during recent violence in the city.

    Moments later gunfire erupted. Elci was killed with one shot, in what Human Rights Watch has called an “assassination.”

    Two police officers were also killed when the unidentified attackers opened fire on a local prosecutor and a group of criminologists who arrived at the city shortly afterwards. Another two died when the assailants set off a remotely-operated explosive device.

    Merve Şebnem, a political observer with the newspaper Yeni Şafak, closely associated with the country’s ruling Justice and Development party, was quick to blame the attack on members of the banned Kurdistan Workers party.

    Merve Şebnem also questioned the logic of those who pointed the finger at the government in view of Tahir Elci’s active role in the discussion of the settlement of the Kurdish problem.

    She argued that the government would “shoot itself in the foot” by ordering the assassination of Elci, whose recent statement about the PKK not being a terrorist organization resulted in a criminal investigation initiated against him.

    “Why should the government launch a criminal investigation against someone it is going to kill?” she wondered. Merve Şebnem wrote that Tahir Elci’s call on the government and the PKK to end their armed standoff made just days before he was killed could have angered the PKK’s youth wing – the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement.

    In her investigative zeal Merve Şebnem went so far as to look for “Moscow’s hand” in the lawyer’s assassination.

    “The aggressive and uncompromising behavior Moscow has demonstrated since the Turkish Air Force shot down the Russian bomber, which had strayed into our airspace, makes one think about a possible “Russian trace” in Tahir Elci’s death,” she wrote.

    “Russia was behind several political assassinations we had here before. Its proven ties with the PKK, the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), various Marxist-Leninist groups and complicity in the assassination of Chechen rebel commanders mean that Russia has all necessary experience and means plotting assassinations and clandestine operations in Turkey,” Şebnem fantasized.

    And, to top it all off, she mentioned a tweet that recently appeared on the official Twitter account of the Sputnik website:

    ​Well, if tweets are something to go by, then many more equally bizarre conspiracy theories may look frighteningly real. Like President Kennedy having been assassinated by the Soviets, or aliens already walking among us…


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    unidentified attackers, Kurdish lawyer, assassination, Su-24M, Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia, Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Merve Sebnem, Tahir Elci, Turkey
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