Russian agents of information influence in Turkey, part 1

Ilber Vasfi Sel
Ilber Vasfi Sel and fictional map of divided Ukraine

Political commentator Ilber Vasfi Sel, who is often published in a very small, obscure web-site, is almost unknown in his homeland. At the same time, he is one of the most cited Turkish authors … in Russia.

This paradox is explained simply: Ilber Vasfi Sel voices in Turkish what the Kremlin produces in Russian. He did it until 2022, and he continues to do it now, even after almost a year of Russia’s massive attack on Ukraine. However, he doesn’t care – he is living his best life now studying at St. Petersburg University. Here are just a few of his pro-Russian propaganda headlines over the past few months:

“Zelenskyy is going all-in, because Europe’s support hangs in the balance” (misinformation)

“Ukrainian missile attacked Poland! – accident or provocation?” (misinformation)

“Everything is fine with the Crimean bridge” (propaganda)

“Is the British deep state responsible for the attack on the Crimean bridge?” (conspiracy theory)

“The President of Kazakhstan is included in the list of “enemies of Ukraine” (disinformation)

“Referendum in the east of Ukraine: what will be the fate of the regions that broke away?” (propaganda)

“Ukraine switched to terror tactics!” (disinformation)

“Why does the West keep quiet about the problem of neo-Nazism in Ukraine?” (disinformation)

It is interesting that Ilber Vasfi Sel considers himself a Crimean Tatar, but does not write anything about the hundreds of Crimean Tatars who have been arrested and imprisoned in Crimea since 2014 by the Russian authorities. He does not write anything about the fact that the Crimean Tatar culture was opressed during occupation, and Moscow destroys the monuments of this indigenous people, such as the Khan palace in Bakhchisarai.

You will not find articles by this author in more solid and popular Turkish publications. A site with an audience of several thousand readers per month is exactly his level. Which is not surprising, given that Ilber started his author’s career as a … flour merchant in occupied Simferopol, but he is probably as successful a businessman as a journalist, so he closed the company, which should have been very profitable, after two years of existence. After that he started to broadcast Russian messages in Turkish no make some money.

You may ask, how did Ilber achieve such great success, and when did Moscow pay attention to him? The answer is obvious if you look at who his father is.

To be continued in part 2 …

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