RIA Novosti denies Turkey election survey link

RIA Novosti has denied media reports that it helped carry out a controversial opinion poll ahead of Turkey’s general election next month and is considering taking legal action.

RIA Novosti Deputy CEO Mikhail Safronov described as untrue the reports in the Turkish media that the news agency helped a little known international pollster, RIJA-SAM, carry out the survey among some 50,000 people. 

“RIA Novosti intends to put a stop to any cases of misuse of its brand for commercial, political or any other purposes and will use all available means to punish the offenders, including legal proceedings to protect its business reputation and trademark rights,” Safronov said.

The results of the poll suggesting that the governing party of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will lose ground to opposition rivals were published on a Germany-based web portal Politikcity.de earlier this month and then shared through social networking sites including Facebook.

Mikhail Fedotov, an adviser to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on human rights issues, said the poll was a “black PR” move.

“This is black PR in its purest form,” he told RIA Novosti. “I think this must be new election technology in Turkey.”

Turkish political strategist Necati Ozkan echoed Fedotov’s view.

“Immediately after the poll appeared in the Turkish media it became clear that it was a product of “black political technology” and was used by someone for political purposes,” he said.

Ozkan said that the poll, which predicts that the opposition Republican People’s Party will take most of the seats, would not have the desired effect and could even backfire.

Sergei Zheleznyak, head of the information politics committee of the lower house of the Russian parliament, said the offenders should be taken to court.

“The misuse of RIA Novosti’s brand damages both the agency and our state interests,” Zheleznyak said.

“Our leading news agency can use the support of the committee to protect its brand,” he said.

ANKARA/MOSCOW, May 21 (RIA Novosti)

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