The phrase "$128 billion" became the third most-searched expression after the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) dramatic removal of the main opposition Republican People's Party's (CHP) banners about the missing funds around midnight on April 14, data from Google revealed.
The CHP's awareness campaign about the missing $128 billion has been ongoing for weeks since former Finance Minister Berat Albayrak resigned in November 2020, and banners about the missing funds became a cause for prosecution on charges of "insulting the president."
The only explanation that the government gave about the missing $128 billion was by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Feb. 24, when he said that the massive sum was used in offsetting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Turkish Lira exchange rates.
"In our fight with financial traps, we stopped anyone who wanted to create economic turmoil under the guise of the pandemic, by using all tools that were available to us. That's where the money [CHP leader Kemal] Kılıçdaroğlu keeps asking about went," the president had said on Feb. 24.
The expression "$128 billion" in Turkish became the most-searched phrase in AKP-voting provinces such as Rize, Düzce, Kocaeli, Isparta and Samsun, according to Google data.