Leaders from an opposition bloc of six parties have called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to prove that recently surfaced allegations regarding corruption, illegal activities and misconduct involving him and his family are false, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported over the weekend.
Ali Yeşildağ, a former associate of Erdoğan and a member of the influential Yeşildağ family, claimed in the first three installments of an expected seven-video series, released by journalist Cevheri Güven, that Erdoğan has hundreds of billions of dollars in ill-gotten gains.
Meral Akşener, leader of the nationalist opposition İYİ (Good) Party, on Sunday called on Erdoğan during an election rally in Manisa to prove that Yeşildağ’s allegations are false.
“There is an allegation that the president of this country took 1 billion dollars of this country’s money and put it into his own pocket. … Explain to our people that such an allegation is not true!” Akşener said.
The İYİ leader was referring to Yeşildağ’s allegations that Erdoğan siphoned off $1 billion from a 2007 tender for the operation of an airport in Antalya province.
A similar call was also made by Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the presidential candidate of the opposition bloc, during a rally in the Central Anatolian city of Kırıkkale on Sunday.
Stating that the videos containing Yeşildağ’s shocking revelations about Erdoğan and his inner circle are being blocked, Kılıçdaroğlu emphasized that what should be done is to allow the prosecutors to investigate the claims and determine whether Yeşildağ’s statements are true or false.
İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu from the CHP, who is among those expected to serve as vice presidents if Kılıçdaroğlu is elected to the top state post in the May 14 elections, also referred to Yeşildağ’s claims while speaking at a rally in Çorum on Sunday.
“There is neither transparency nor merit left. Unfortunately, over the course of 21 years, they’ve attracted a lot of dirt,” İmamoğlu said, referring to Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which came to power in 2002.
Meanwhile, former police chief and author Hanefi Avcı underlined in a nine-minute video released on YouTube that Yeşildağ’s revelations were of greater importance than those made by two other people who previously released videos exposing President Erdoğan’s alleged corruption and criminal activities. He was referring to Sedat Peker, a mafia boss living in exile in the United Arab Emirates, and Muhammed Yakut, a Kurdish businessman.
“The [Yeşildağ] family has been standing by the president since the beginning, even before he founded his party. … That’s why the information they provide is somewhat different from that of other individuals,” Avcı said.
While Peker and Yakut have gained notoriety for their roles in organized crime, Yeşildağ is different as he is a member of the influential Yeşildağ family, which has a longstanding relationship with Erdoğan. Hasan Yeşildağ, the family’s patriarch, served as Erdoğan’s bodyguard during the latter’s imprisonment in 1999, and the family’s Etiler Ulus Cafe has become a popular meeting spot for AKP officials and bureaucrats as well as the Erdoğan family.
The recent videos by Yeşildağ have surfaced just ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for May 14, potentially impacting the outcome as Erdoğan’s administration grapples with an economic crisis and high inflation.
Investigative journalist Güven, who posted the videos on his YouTube channel, is a vocal critic of Erdoğan and is currently living in exile in Germany. With millions of viewers tuning in to Güven’s exposés on the Turkish government’s corruption and questionable dealings, these videos are likely to generate significant public interest and debate as the elections draw nearer.