Sochi meeting was hailed by participant countries, Russia, Iran and Turkey, as a milestone to set a realistic roadmap for a lasting political solution to Syria’s prolonged conflict.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, his Iranian and Turkish counterparts, Hassan Rouhani and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, were all jubilant and jovial at the end of the meeting, boasting about how the three countries took the lead for laying the groundwork for a political settlement.
The three sides have all expressed commitment to the territorial integrity of Syria, a new constitution, new elections and prisoner exchange between warring sides.
But one video and a small detail stood in sharp contrast to all positive elements that defined the meeting, left observers and watchers shuddering over the meaning of what they saw.
Putin niye sandalyeyi itiyor? pic.twitter.com/r4HxIzMbpp
— Khan (@SenusiTekkesi) November 22, 2017
When President Putin made a move to shake hands with Turkish leader Erdogan, he either accidentally or intentionally knocked Mr. Erdogan’s chair to the ground after the handshake. He then returned to Iranian President Rouhani to shake his hands.
When someone watches the video several times, it is no hard to see that Mr. Putin, after shaking hands with the Turkish president, seemed to be pushing the chair to the ground after Mr. Erdogan stood up.
The Turkish leader appeared to be appalling, trying to make sense of what happened. Mr. Putin never returned back, while Mr. Erdogan looked at the falling chair and the personnel present there immediately made a move to take the chair off the ground.
Given the cordial relationship they have recently cultivated, there hardly seems to be any reason to be skeptical of any sinister motive from the Russian leader. They talked to each other on the phone more than six times this year and personally met on several occasions.
But the video is there. And the riddling puzzle surrounding remains to be unresolved. Did really Russian president intentionally knock Mr. Erdogan’s chair to the ground?
It stirred up social media on both sides and unleashed a wave of memes, jokes and pouring commentary to parse every bit of the incident.
One possible explanation for Mr. Putin’s move could be that he might have tried to help the Turkish president when he stood up, opening space by pulling the chair back. Then the chair might have fallen to the ground, all unintentionally. Whatever the reality, for social media commentators, it was a rare opportunity to present the wildest conspiracy theories, juggle the fact and fiction.