Facebook user, Patiko Antiliberasti Mkhilebadze, promoted a piece of disinformation in social networks claiming that the Mayor of Istanbul stated that he was going to recognise the independence of Crimea, Donbas, Abkhazia and Samachablo if he wins the 2023 election. In his video address, the Facebook user says (1:50): “You probably know that there are elections in Turkey and previously, the Mayor of Istanbul, who is pro-American, or more precisely, he was, made a statement that he is going to recognise the independence of Crimea, Donbas, Abkhazia and Samachablo if he is elected. After that, Erdogan stepped forward and grilled Americans that Washington wants to drag Turkey into the war, etc. This means that rival candidates in this country of 80 million people, which has a million-strong army and is second in NATO in terms of weaponry, are competing to see who will better appease Russia and they are building their election campaigns on that.” The Facebook user also showed some footage which he claims features the Mayor of Istanbul who made the aforementioned statement.

In fact, the footage which the Facebook user published as evidence features the Chairperson of the Homeland (Vatan) party, Dogu Perincek, and not the Mayor of Istanbul. An excerpt from the footage which was posted on the TikTok social network was cut from one of Mr Perincek’s online meetings. As the Homeland party’s official website reads, the event was conducted in partnership with the Azerbaijan Eurasia Expert and Analytical Centre and the Russian Embassy in Baku.

Together with Dogu Perincek, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Azerbaijan, Mikhail Bocharnikov, also took part in the discussions. In his speech, Mr Perincek did indeed mention both Crimea and Donbas as well as Abkhazia and he highlighted the importance of Turkey’s recognition of them.

However, the claim that the initiative to recognise the political status of these territories in the case of his electoral victory belongs to the Mayor of Istanbul is false. The incumbent Mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu, is a member of Turkey’s Republican People’s Party whilst Dogu Perincek has never been the Mayor of Istanbul. At the same time, the mayor will not be elected during Turkey’s universal elections scheduled on 14 May 2023. The mayoral election will take place in 2024 as part of Turkey’s municipal elections.

Of note is that the Mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu, as well as the Government of Turkey openly condemn Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Ankara supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey also condemned Russia’s decision to recognise the independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic and stated that this decision “violates Ukraine’s political unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Although Turkey has maintained trade ties with Russia, Ankara actively supports Kyiv during the war and supplies Ukraine with Turkish-made military equipment. Of additional note is that the Government of Turkey reported that goods that were sanctioned by the West are no longer supplied to Russia through Turkish territory from 1 March 2023.


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