Turkish authorities to confiscate COVID-19 aid drives by Ankara's opposition mayor

Turkish authorities decided to confiscate financial aid collected by the opposition mayor of Ankara, Mansur Yavaş, during the coronavirus pandemic for citizens in need, Sözcü newspaper reported on Thursday.

Some opposition-controlled municipalities, including the country’s two largest cities, Istanbul and Ankara, launched donation campaigns in March to gather funds for citizens during the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

However, the Turkish Interior Ministry said municipalities cannot collect financial aid without permission from the provincial governor's office a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced what he called a national solidarity campaign to gather donations to see Turkey’s poorest households through the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ankara governorate begins works to confiscate 3.5 million lira ($500,000) collected by the municipality after banks had blocked donations to the campaigns in Ankara in early May, Sözcü said.

The move sparked outrage on social media among critics of the Turkish government, who said the block on funds to local campaigns was nearly as extraordinary as a state demanding donations from citizens to deal with a public crisis.