Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid a visit to Kyiv. At a joint briefing with him, Volodymyr Zelensky instructed the Security Service of Ukraine to deal with supporters of Fethullah Gulen. We tell how the latter became the "enemy" of Erdogan, why Ankara is persecuting the Gülenists and what does the Ukrainian special service have to do with it. And let's start with the person of Gulen himself - a former like-minded person, and now - the main enemy of the Turkish president.
Second person in the country
Fethullah Gülen is a Turkish writer, Islamic preacher, former imam and founder of the Hizmet political movement, also known as Jemaat.
“Little is known about the rules of Jemaat - according to some former members, alcohol is prohibited there, certain books, for example, Darwin and Sartre, and all the time should be devoted to “service”- reading the Koran, studying the works of Gulen. Hizmet members condemn radical Islam and define themselves as adherents of democracy. They advocate interfaith dialogue," RBC writes.
Gulen’s followers consider him their spiritual leader, and sometimes he is called the second most influential person in Turkey, the BBC reports. The publication emphasizes that Gulen promotes tolerant Islam, which puts altruism, modesty, hard work and education at the forefront.
In 2002, the Gulen movement backed then Prime Minister Erdogan and contributed to the coming to power of his Justice and Development Party.
Subsequently, two like-minded people disagreed and in 2013 Erdogan began to pursue the Hizmet.
In 2014, a Turkish court issued a warrant for the arrest of a preacher, and Erdogan himself accused Gulen of trying to overthrow him, using supporters, including in the press.
Ankara even petitioned for Gulen to be put on the international wanted list, but Interpol did not accept the documents provided by the Turkish authorities, "due to the lack of evidence."
At that time, the founder of Hizmet had lived in the United States for fifteen years - he left his homeland back in 1999, having left for treatment, and since then has been living in solitude in a suburban estate in Pennsylvania.
On the night of July 15-16, 2016, a group of soldiers tried to seize power in Turkey, but by the morning the coup was suppressed. As a result of these events, 265 people were killed, about 2 000 were injured.
Erdogan accused Gulen of organizing the coup, after which tens of thousands of civil servants and budget workers including teachers were dismissed, thousands were arrested.
Many of them suffered from suspected ties to the Gulen movement. The founder of Hizmet himself denies any involvement in the failed military coup.
"I strongly condemn the attempted military coup in Turkey. As a person who suffered from numerous military coups over the past five decades, it is especially disappointing to be accused of involvement in such actions. I categorically deny such allegations," Gulen said.
On June 16, 2016, the criminal court of the small town of Erzincan in Eastern Anatolia recognized the FETO organization as a terrorist and banned its existence on the territory of the country, Novaya Gazeta writes. The court has defined the FETO: "The Fethullah Terrorist Organization."
It is noteworthy that this organization did not officially exist before the court decision.
By the end of the month, the Anadolu Turkish state agency reported that FETO in Ukraine was working in the fields of education, culture and the media.
According to the agency, the organization began operations in the country after the collapse of the USSR. It has allegedly been operating under the cover of the Meridian International School in and its branch in Odesa since 2001. The school offers services in English on a fee basis.
"The leadership is making efforts to educate children of famous politicians and public figures along with the most erudite and successful children. Thus, the Gulen organization is trying to" influence politicians, bureaucrats and entrepreneurs, using them in their own interests," Anadolu wrote.
The Turkish agency named the Ukrainian-Turkish cultural center "Işık" ("Syaivo") operating in Kyiv since 2013 another branch of FETO. The center organizes training courses and competitions in Turkish holds joint events with Meridian schools.
What Zelensky promised
During a joint briefing with Erdogan in Kyiv, the Ukrainian president said that he had instructed the SBU to deal with Gulen’s supporters. Zelensky said that he was talking about FETO schools, which are in Ukraine.
According to him, this issue has been on the agenda between Ukraine and Turkey for many years.
"Talking on the ban of those organizations that are behind educational institutions in Ukraine. We have been discussing this topic for a long time today, in detail ... Today I received very detailed things, facts, specific names ... I gave all this information to our SBU leadership, which should deal with this issue," Zelensky said.