Russian news outlet cancels Turkish show after critical interview with Davutoğlu

Russia’s state-funded “Voice of Russia” media outlet has cancelled a popular Turkish journalist’s show after he interviewed former prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, a prominent critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

On Thursday, journalist Yavuz Oğhan invited Davutoğlu onto his “BiDeBunuİzle” programme, where he answered questions from Oğhan and the other journalists on the show, Makif Beki and İsmail Saymaz.

His answers included harsh criticisms of the executive presidential system, which has transferred unparalleled powers to Erdoğan since it was adopted after elections last years.

Although the interview was only broadcast from Oğhan’s personal YouTube account, the Russian outlet cancelled its joint broadcasts with the journalist.

“In Turkey no good deed goes unpunished, yesterday we interviewed Davutoğlu and today our programme is finished”, Oğhan tweeted on Friday.

Since 2014, the Voice of Russia has been part of the Sputnik media network, a Russian state-funded international news outlet that reports in Turkish and other languages.

While Sputnik is widely regarded as a mouthpiece for the Russian government, it has quickly gained large reader numbers in Turkey, where it has provided rare space for critical reporting on the country.

Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile defence systems may have dampened the outlet’s enthusiasm for critical reporting, journalist Tunca Öğreten said in a tweet on Friday.

“When the buyer of their weapons became uncomfortable they ended @yavuzoghan ‘s programme”, Öğreten said.

Davutoğlu, a former foreign minister and prime minister for the AKP, is one of several high-profile AKP figures to express discontent with Erdoğan’s recent leadership of the party.

The former prime minister fuelled speculation that he is planning to launch a new political party after the March 31 local elections, when he posted a long manifesto on Facebook blaming the AKP’s disappointing election results on its recent policy decisions and alliance with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party.

Davutoğlu expressed his sympathy for Oğhan in a tweet on Friday, saying there had been “no reason” for the decision to end his show.

On Friday, Turkish journalist Zafer Arapkirli announced his resignation from Sputnik after three years at the outlet in protest at the treatment of Oğhan.