Politics

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

  • Turkey holds presidential, parliamentary elections on May 14
  • Opposition chief Kemal Kilicdaroglu has slight lead
  • Wants to maintain good relations with Russia
  • Says good points in Turkish property present market confidence in him

ANKARA, May 12 (Reuters) – Kemal Kilicdaroglu, essential challenger of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, mentioned on Friday his occasion has concrete evidence of Russia’s duty for the discharge of “deep fake” online content material ahead of Sunday’s presidential elections.

Kilicdaroglu, who has a slight ballot lead over Erdogan two days ahead of the election, advised Reuters in an interview it was unacceptable for Russia to intervene in Turkey’s inside affairs, however added that ought to he develop into president he would preserve Ankara’s good ties with Moscow.

NATO-member Turkey relies upon closely on power imports and Russia is its largest provider. This week, two sources advised Reuters that Ankara has deferred cost to Russia of a $600 million pure gasoline invoice to 2024, underlining the extent of strengthened relations underneath Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Asked why he tweeted on Thursday that Russia was chargeable for faux online content material, a daring transfer, Kilicdaroglu mentioned: “If we did not have it (concrete evidence), I wouldn’t have tweeted.” His occasion didn’t contact the Russian embassy over the problem, he added. He didn’t elaborate on what the online content material was.

One presidential candidate from a small occasion, Muharrem Ince, withdrew on Thursday citing a faked “character assassination” carried out online. He gave few particulars.

Russia has been accused prior to now of meddling in international elections together with within the United States, which Moscow denies.

Turkey’s vote on Sunday shapes up as probably the most consequential in its fashionable historical past, with enormous implications for Ankara’s world standing, strategic alliances and financial route.

“We find it unacceptable for another country to interfere in Turkey’s election process in favour of a political party. I wanted the whole world to be aware of this, that is why I made this call openly by a tweet,” Kilicdaroglu mentioned in an interview.

The Kremlin later denied interfering.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov mentioned the individuals who had handed on such allegations to Kilicdaroglu have been liars and that Russia valued its ties with Turkey enormously.

CONFIDENT

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

The 74-year-old former civil servant burdened that Turkey, which additionally has shut enterprise, financial and vacationer ties with Russia, would pursue a superb stability in relations with Moscow.

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

Kilicdaroglu additionally mentioned he would push for one more peace initiative between Russia and Ukraine, following a failed bid by Erdogan in 2022.

However, he added, “we should make it clear that we do not find it right for any country to occupy another country”.

Turkey has carried out a diplomatic balancing act since Russia invaded Ukraine. Ankara opposes Western sanctions on Russia and has shut ties with each Moscow and Kyiv, its Black Sea neighbours. It has despatched armed drones to assist Ukraine.

When requested whether or not he would help NATO enlargement if he’s elected as president, he mentioned: “Of course,” with out elaborating. “We will maintain our relations with NATO within the same framework as we had in the past,” Kilicdaroglu added.

Finland and Sweden, rattled by Russia’s invasion, secured approval to affix NATO earlier this yr, although Sweden’s induction has been delayed by a dispute with Erdogan’s authorities over its alleged harbouring of Kurdish militants, who Ankara considers terrorists.

Kilicdaroglu mentioned a basic downside of Turkey’s international coverage in Erdogan’s AK Party (AKP) tenure was the exclusion of the international ministry from the policy-making course of. Erdogan has as a substitute formed coverage himself.

Turkey, Kilicdaroglu mentioned, will pursue a peace-oriented international coverage that prioritises its nationwide curiosity and acts in step with the fashionable world.

MARKET TRUST

Kilicdaroglu mentioned good points in Turkish property on Thursday indicated markets imagine his opposition alliance will win on Sunday. On Thursday, Turkey’s essential inventory index closed virtually 7.9% larger, whereas credit score default swaps dropped.

The election pits Erdogan’s imaginative and prescient of a closely managed economic system, which has seen hovering inflation and a plunging lira, in opposition to Kilicdaroglu’s promise to return to a extra orthodox, free-market financial coverage.

“We already see that there is relief inside and outside the country as it has become clear that I will be elected as the president,” Kilicdaroglu mentioned, including markets trusted that his alliance would rule with rational insurance policies.

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

“We need to appoint someone who is trusted by financial circles as the head of the central bank. This is the first thing foreign investors will see. Plus, we will ensure the independence of the central bank.”

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

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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