Russia has demanded the arrest of a Turkish man who claimed the killing of one of the pilots of the Su-24M fighter jet that was shot down by Turkey last month. Alparslan Celik said in an interview with Turkish media that he had participated in the killing of Russian pilot Oleg Peshkov.
Peshkov was reportedly killed by rebel gunfire from the ground after he ejected, while another pilot was rescued. In an interview published Sunday in Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, Celik reportedly said that his "conscience cannot be bothered by a person who threw bombs at Turkmen civilians every day," referring to the deceased Russian pilot.
“We demand that the Turkish authorities take immediate action to catch Alparslan Celik and his accomplices and charge them with criminal offence for killing a Russian pilot and taking part in hostilities as members of an illegal armed group in a foreign country,” Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, said in a statement Wednesday.
Zakharova also reportedly condemned Hurriyet, a major Turkish newspaper, for providing a platform to the “murderer and terrorist” to brag about his crime and disseminate nationalist ideology “filled with hatred towards Russia and the Russian people.” She added that Celik's comments constituted an admission of his "direct involvement in the murder of the Russian pilot," according to local reports.
Tensions between Moscow and Ankara intensified after a Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet downed Russia’s Sukhoi Su-24 bomber on Nov. 24, with Turkey saying that the jet violated Turkish airspace along the border with Syria. However, Russia said that "there was no violation of Turkey’s airspace." Russian President Vladimir Putin described the downing of the jet as a "stab in the back" carried out by "accomplices of terrorists."