Erdogans rival says he has evidence of Russias online campaign

Erdogan’s rival says he has evidence of Russia’s online campaign ahead of Turkey’s election – Portal

  • Presidential and parliamentary elections will take place in Turkey on May 14th
  • Opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu has a slight lead
  • Would like to maintain good relations with Russia
  • He says gains in Turkish assets show the market’s confidence in him

ANKARA, May 12 (Portal) – Kemal Kilicdaroglu, main opponent of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, said on Friday his party had concrete evidence of Russia’s responsibility for publishing “deep fake” content online ahead of Sunday’s presidential election.

Kilicdaroglu, who is slightly ahead of Erdogan in polls two days before the election, told Portal that it was unacceptable for Russia to interfere in Turkey’s internal affairs. However, he added that should he become president, he would maintain Ankara’s good relations with Moscow.

NATO member Turkey is heavily dependent on energy imports and Russia is its largest supplier. This week, two sources told Portal that Ankara has delayed paying a $600 million natural gas bill to Russia until 2024, underscoring the extent of strengthened ties between Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Asked why he tweeted on Thursday that Russia was responsible for fake online content – a bold move – Kilicdaroglu replied: “If we didn’t have it (hard evidence) I wouldn’t have tweeted.” His party was the Russian one Embassy not contacted on the matter, he added. He did not elaborate on the online content.

A small party presidential candidate, Muharrem Ince, withdrew Thursday, citing a fake “character assassination” carried out online. He gave few details.

Russia has been accused in the past of interfering in foreign elections, including in the United States, which Moscow denies.

Turkey’s vote on Sunday is proving to be the most consequential in its modern history, with huge implications for Ankara’s global standing, strategic alliances and economic direction.

“We consider it unacceptable for another country to interfere in Turkey’s electoral process on behalf of a political party. I wanted the whole world to know about this, so I tweeted that call openly,” Kilicdaroglu said in an interview.

The Kremlin later denied any interference.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the people who relayed such allegations to Kilicdaroglu were liars and that Russia values ​​its ties with Turkey enormously.


In his Ankara office, Kilicdaroglu reiterated his confidence that he would “replace authoritarian rule.”

The 74-year-old former official stressed that Turkey, which also has close business, economic and tourism ties with Russia, will seek a balanced relationship in relations with Moscow.

“We don’t want to break off friendly relations, but we will not allow interference in our internal affairs,” he said.

Kilicdaroglu also said he would support another peace initiative between Russia and Ukraine in 2022 after a failed attempt by Erdogan.

However, he added: “We should make it clear that we do not think it is right for one country to occupy another country.”

Turkey has performed a diplomatic balancing act since Russia invaded Ukraine. Ankara opposes Western sanctions against Russia and has close ties with both Moscow and Kiev, its Black Sea neighbors. She sent armed drones to help Ukraine.

When asked if he would support NATO enlargement if elected President, he replied, “Of course,” without elaborating. “We will maintain our relationship with NATO within the same framework as in the past,” Kilicdaroglu added.

Finland and Sweden, rocked by the Russian invasion, secured approval to join NATO earlier this year, although Sweden’s admission was delayed by a dispute with Erdogan’s government over the alleged housing of Kurdish militants, which Ankara considers terrorists.

Kilicdaroglu said a fundamental problem of Turkey’s foreign policy during the tenure of Erdogan’s AK Party (AKP) was the exclusion of the foreign ministry from the political decision-making process. Instead, Erdogan shaped politics himself.

Turkey, Kilicdaroglu said, will pursue a peace-oriented foreign policy that puts its national interests first and acts in harmony with the modern world.

market confidence

Kilicdaroglu said Thursday’s gains in Turkish assets indicated markets expected his opposition alliance to win on Sunday. On Thursday, Turkey’s main stock index closed nearly 7.9% higher, while credit default swaps fell.

In the election, Erdogan’s vision of a heavily managed economy that has seen rising inflation and a crash in the lira is at odds with Kilicdaroglu’s promise to return to more orthodox free-market economic policies.

“We are already seeing relief inside and outside the country as it has become clear that I will be elected president,” Kilicdaroglu said, adding that markets were confident his alliance would rule with rational policies.

“That gives domestic and foreign financial circles great confidence.” [The market moves on Thursday] were the first steps of this trust. Türkiye’s borrowing costs will also decrease,” Kilicdaroglu said.

“We need to appoint someone to head the central bank who is trusted by the financial community. That’s the first thing foreign investors will see. We will also ensure the independence of the central bank.”

Reporting by Orhan Coskun, Ece Toksabay and Huseyin Hayatsever; Edited by Jonathan Spicer and Samia Nakhoul

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