Monday 24 October 2016

Russia detains 39 Turkish businessmen in jet row fallout

Roland Oliphant

Published 27/11/2015 | 02:30

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Moscow of slander after Russia claimed Ankara bought oil from Isil, and arrested dozens of Turkish businessmen who face deportation.

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The diplomatic row between Turkey and Russia has escalated since Tuesday when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane which killed one of two Russian pilots. Ankara claimed the plane violated its airspace and shot the SU-24 plane down close to the Syrian border.

It came several weeks after planes had violated Turkish airspace and Nato warnings.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Russia suggested Turkey was an "accomplice to terrorists" and stabbed Russia in the back, which Mr Erdogan strongly denied yesterday.

"Shame on you. Those who claim we buy oil from Daesh are obliged to prove it. If not, you are a slanderer," the former prime minister said, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil). He gave a speech to local officials insisting Turkey has always been fighting against Islamist extremists.

"Our country's stance against Daesh has been clear since the very beginning ... Nobody has the right to dispute our country's fight against Daesh or to incriminate us."

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (centre) arrives at a ceremony for foreign ambassadors at the Kremlin
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (centre) arrives at a ceremony for foreign ambassadors at the Kremlin

Ankara has insisted it will not apologise for Tuesday's incident because it was acting correctly.

Recently chosen foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey would not apologise "on an occasion that we are right", but revealed he had said "sorry" to Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister who cancelled a visit to Istanbul on Tuesday, a day before he was due to arrive.

Russian immigration officers arrested several dozen Turkish businessmen for visa violations, in the latest in a series of diplomatic and economic measures in retaliation for Tuesday's incident.

The 39 businessmen, who had been attending an agricultural industry conference in a southern Russian region yesterday for entering the country without business visas.

"Turkish citizens require a visa to enter the Russian Federation to engage in business activities or for commercial reasons, and the citizens in this case entered Russia for commercial purposes," Vartan Ter-Saarkyan, the deputy head of the Krasnodar region migration service, told a local television station.

One member of the group, Senk Beykara, said immigration officers had left them in no doubt that the arrests were revenge for destruction of the Russian jet.

He said that during the arrest he heard one of the officers say, "you shot down our plane, so this is what you get."

The group face a fine of 2,000 to 5,000 rubles (€28 to €70) each and deportation.

Irish Independent

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