Russia in the crosshairs: Trump, Brexit and now Erdogan |

Moscow – The main opposition candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, accused Russia of trying to influence the Turkish elections by interfering to influence voters in the service of outgoing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which brings to mind previous Russian interventions to influence the US elections and the Brexit referendum in Britain.

On Friday, the Kremlin “strongly” denied its accusation of meddling in the Turkish election campaign, in a move that shows the sensitivity of the issue on the part of Russia, which fears that this accusation will lead to straining its relationship with Turkey in the event that Kilicdaroglu wins the Turkish presidential elections and the opposition wins in Parliament.

Previous expectations had said that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not allow his friend Erdogan to lose the Turkish elections, especially since Ankara has become Russia’s gateway to solving many of its crises, especially after the Western sanctions imposed on it.

Russia and Turkey maintained close relations during the war in Ukraine, and Erdogan often acted as a mediator, speaking to Moscow and Kiev.

Russia fears the rise of a Turkish opposition more inclined to rely on the West, in contrast to the close relationship between Moscow and Erdogan.

“We strongly reject these accusations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding, “We announce it officially: there is no Russian interference in Turkey.”

He continued, “If any party has provided Kilicdaroglu with such information, it is false.”

Kilicdaroglu accused the “Russian friends” of “disseminating… deep-fake content” on social media, standing behind manipulated scenes and negatively affecting the campaign.

“If you want our friendship to continue after May 15, take your hands off the Turkish state,” Kilicdaroglu said on Twitter Thursday evening, in both Turkish and Russian. We still prefer cooperation and friendship.”

Kilicdaroglu did not specify what content he was referring to. Opinion polls show him narrowly ahead of Erdogan, Turkey’s longtime leader.

A third candidate, Muharram Ince, withdrew Thursday from the presidential race and attributed the reason to what he described as a “moral assassination” of his person via the Internet, but he did not disclose more details, amid fears that this withdrawal may be a result of direct Russian interference to influence the elections by distorting Erdogan’s opponents. .

This was not the first time that Russia was accused of interfering in the elections, as it had previously been accused of interfering in the 2016 US elections to support the fortunes of former US President Donald Trump in confronting his Democratic opponents, despite the latter’s denial of these accusations.

Various US reports said that Russia had widely hacked social media to launch a two-faced campaign, the first to smear Trump’s opponents and the second to encourage his election. Russia has also been accused of influencing the course of the British referendum to leave the European Union (Brexit).

A report by the British Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee said that Russia interfered in the 2014 Scottish referendum, that there are suspicions about its interference in the 2016 Brexit referendum, and that the British government failed to seek an in-depth assessment of possible interference from the Kremlin.

Russia fears the rise of a Turkish opposition that is more inclined to rely on the West in its foreign relations in order to obtain support that would enable the country to overcome its economic crisis.

“Any prolonged foreign policy crisis could cause more damage to the Turkish economy,” said Birgul Demirtas, a professor of international relations at the Turkish-German University in Istanbul.

Demirtas saw that the opposition intends to return to the traditional standards of Turkish foreign policy, which is well-established in heading towards the West.

“But it should be noted their emphasis on equality in Turkey’s international relations with all international actors, including the European Union, the United States and Russia,” she added.

“Moscow is concerned that any change in the government could lead to a more pro-Western stance on the part of Turkey,” said Ahmed Kamel Iruzan, deputy head of the Good Party, one of the six parties that make up the opposition coalition.

“We should re-evaluate our relations with Russia and the United States on the first day of work because Erdogan’s policy was based on personal relations,” added Eruzan, who is seen as one of the contenders for the position of foreign minister if the opposition wins.

Eruzan, a former diplomat, said that “Turkey will seek to reduce its energy dependence on Russia from 50 to 30 percent, if the opposition wins the elections.”

Moscow and Ankara have close relations. Russia is the largest supplier of energy to Türkiye. Putin holds frequent talks with Erdogan on a number of issues, including energy and the war in Ukraine and Syria.