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Opposition leader slams Turkey’s pro-gov’t businessmen, says they’ll end up like Russian oligarchs

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Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said rich Turkish businessmen close to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government will lose their wealth just like Russian oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin, who have been losing money due to sanctions imposed on them over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The US, the UK and the EU have recently imposed sanctions on dozens of prominent people over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including oligarchs and businesspeople active in the oil, banking and finance sectors, freezing their assets and imposing a travel ban on some of them.

“The gang of five, you’re the Turkish copycats of the system Putin established for his oligarchs. The guy at the palace [Erdoğan] wants to implement whatever he has learned from Putin,” the CHP leader said in a video he tweeted on Thursday, addressing the five businessmen and their companies who have won nearly all the large tenders during the time in office of President Erdoğan.

Cengiz Holding Chair Mehmet Cengiz, Limak Holding CEO Nihat Özdemir, MNG Holding Chairman Mehmet Nazif Günal, Kolin Construction CEO Naci Koloğlu and Kalyon Construction Chair Cemal Kalyoncu comprise the so-called gang of five.

“You went and bought neighborhoods in England, you bought villas. You have established banks, you took your money there, and you continue to. Do you think your money will be safe there? Look what’s happened to Putin’s oligarchs,” Kılıçdaroğlu added.

The CHP leader said the Western countries have confiscated Russian oligarchs’ assets bought abroad and the money they sent out of their homeland.

“Whose money is it, really? It’s the Russian people’s, my dear people, it’s the Russian people’s,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

“Local oligarchs … you stole people’s money. The West is on the alert to figure out how to get that money you stole. They’re watching you. There’s no rest for you, either,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, vowing to get the wealth that Turkish oligarchs sent abroad back to “where it belongs, which is this beautiful country of ours,” when they come to power.

He also warned Turks that if they didn’t “fight for a slice of dry bread” together with them, those like the gang of five would continue to “rob them all” and use the money to fund pro-government media outlets and social media trolls.

The companies that comprise the gang of five are among the world’s top 10 private sponsors of public infrastructure projects by investment and region and by investment and primary sector for the years 1990 to 2020, according to World Bank data. The opposition parties accuse them of rigging tenders and claim they are Turkey’s biggest tax evaders.

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