Turkish politician Kilicdaroglu accuses Russia of meddling in elections –

Turkish politician Kilicdaroglu accuses Russia of meddling in elections – Al Jazeera English

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s main rival, says Moscow is behind “deepfake content”.

Turkey’s main opposition candidate has accused Russia of interfering in the country’s elections just days before the crucial vote.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who is challenging long-time Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sunday’s presidential election, said “foreign hackers” recruited by his rival were preparing deepfakes — manipulated videos and soundbites — to discredit the opposition days before the election.

“Dear Russian friends… You are behind the montages, conspiracies, deepfake content and tapes that have been uncovered in this country,” he said Thursday, without explaining why he blamed Russia.

“If you want our friendship after May 15, keep your hands off the Turkish state,” the candidate from the main opposition alliance added in tweets written in Turkish and Russian.

The allegations came hours after a third-party candidate dropped out of the running after being targeted by an online smear campaign.

On Friday, Kilicdaroglu told Portal that his party had evidence that Russia was responsible for publishing “deep fake” online content.

Moscow rejects claims

In response to Kilicdaroglu’s claims, the Kremlin on Friday denied that it had interfered in Turkey’s presidential election campaign.

“We firmly reject such statements,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“We officially declare: There can be no question of interference.”

“If anyone provides such information to Mr. Kilicdaroglu, they are liars,” Peskow said.

He added that Moscow “values” its bilateral relations with Ankara.

“Turkey has a very responsible, sovereign and thoughtful position on a whole range of regional and global issues that we face,” Peskov said.

Russia and Turkey maintained close ties throughout the Ukraine conflict, with Erdogan often acting as a mediator, speaking to both Moscow and Kiev.

The crucial presidential and parliamentary elections will take place on May 14 amid an economic crisis in the country.

Polls show that the secular opposition leader is well ahead of Erdogan in Sunday’s presidential election.