Europe

Russian pilot's body flown to Ankara after honours

  • 29 November 2015
  • From the section Europe
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Photo of Russian Lt Col Oleg Peshkov among flowers outside the Russian Defence Ministry building in Moscow, Russia, 26 November 2015 Image copyright EPA
Image caption Tributes to Lt Col Oleg Peshkov have been left outside the defence ministry in Moscow

Turkey has flown the body of the Russian pilot killed after his plane was downed on the Syrian border to Ankara, to be met by Russian diplomats.

Lt Col Oleg Peshkov's coffin was flown to the capital from southern Turkey. It is not yet clear when the body will be repatriated to Russia.

Turkish forces shot down the plane saying it had violated Turkish airspace, which Russia denies.

The incident has sparked a furious row between the two countries.

Russia announced sanctions against Turkey.

Rebels from Syria's ethnic Turkmen community opened fire on Lt Col Peshkov and his co-pilot as they tried to parachute into government-held territory on Tuesday.

The rebels said he had died by the time he reached the ground.

Earlier on Sunday, Lt Col Peshkov's body was received by Turkish authorities at Hatay airport on the Syrian border. A Turkish honour guard carried the coffin on to an air force plane for the flight to Ankara.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption A Turkish honour guard received the pilot's body at Hatay airport on the Syrian border
Image copyright AP
Image caption The coffin was loaded on to a Turkish air force plane for the flight to Ankara

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu added that the pilot's body had been treated in accordance with Orthodox Christian tradition.

Russian news agencies said the body was accompanied from Hatay to Ankara by the Russian military attache, and would be met by Ambassador Andrei Karlov in the Turkish capital.

The other pilot in the plane, Capt Konstantin Murakhtin, survived and was rescued from rebel-held territory in Syria in a special forces operation.

Capt Murakhtin said he wanted to go back to duty and stay in Syria, saying "someone has to pay" for his colleague's death.

A decree signed by President Vladimir Putin on Saturday covers imports from Turkey, the work of Turkish companies in Russia and any Turkish nationals working for Russian companies.

The decree also calls for an end to charter flights between the countries.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refused to apologise to Russia over the incident.

On Friday, he accused Moscow of "playing with fire" in its Syria operations. But on Saturday, he said he was "saddened" by the downing of the jet.

Turkey and Russia have important economic links. Russia is Turkey's second-largest trading partner, while more than three million Russian tourists visited Turkey last year.