Moscow: Moscow’s fury over Ankara’s downing of a Russian warplane on the Syrian border was on full display today as pro-government activists staged anti-Turkey rallies, even parading a life-size doll of its president in a coffin.
In Crimea, a group of young people gathered around a hay effigy with the face of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan set up on the main square of Simferopol. Videos shot at the scene by various media showed the effigy set on fire as people held Russian flags and chanted “Down with IS (Islamic State group).”
Activists in Moscow, belonging to a youth wing of the conservative Rodina party, put a life-size inflatable doll of Erdogan in a coffin and delivered it to the Turkish embassy.
Pictures on the group’s website also showed the activists laying several funeral wreaths with ribbons saying “From Russian patriots to US puppets” outside the embassy.
Police detained two organisers. They were let go when law enforcement discovered they were municipal lawmakers, the group said.
The Turkish embassy in Moscow has seen several protests since the Tuesday downing of a Russian Sukhoi jet by Ankara. Turkey summoned the Russian ambassador yesterday over some of the protests, which it called “unacceptable.”
The plane incident, which Turkey says was caused by the Russian pilot breaching its airspace, has led to a sharp deterioration of relations, with Moscow today announcing that it will be cancelling visa-free travel for Turkish tourists starting next year.
Many Russians critical of the Kremlin have reacted by saying that Moscow is partially to blame for the death of two officers — the jet’s pilot and a soldier participating in the rescue mission — because of its refusal to meet Ankara’s concerns over repeated airspace violations and its bombing of ethnic Turkmen in northern Syria.
But anti-Turkish slogans has proliferated after sharp language from President Vladimir Putin, who called Turkey’s action a “stab in the back.”
Local media even in far-flung Arctic town of Salekhard have seen propaganda posters calling on Russians not to buy Turkish products or travel to Turkey.
“Those who go on vacation in Turkey will be considered terrorists’ allies,” one poster on a Salekhard shopping centre read, according to Znak.Com news website.
“Have you purchased a Turkish product? You’ve sponsored IS,” said another image shared widely on Twitter Friday, showing Erdogan selling a lemon with one hand and a grenade with another.