The disappearance of Nazarbayev made me remember how the death of the presidents of different countries was hidden

“An airplane took off from Turkey, on board of which was either alive or already dead Aliyev”

Nothing has been heard about the first president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Some suggest that he “hidden” in his homeland and is bargaining with Tokayev about the fate of his clan, others think that Nazarbayev may not be alive, but they hide this fact. For the post-Soviet space, there is nothing surprising in hiding the death of a national leader. We recalled similar situations that occurred abroad.

Nursultan Nazarbayev Photo: Lilia Sharlovskaya

Afterlife Heydar Aliyev

The third president of Azerbaijan, 80-year-old Heydar Aliyev, according to official data, died on December 12, 2003. According to unofficial reports, death occurred in July 2003. The well-being of the Azerbaijani leader deteriorated sharply shortly before the presidential elections.

At the end of April, Aliyev was speaking at the Palace of the Republic, when he suddenly became ill. First, he grabbed his heart, after which the guards took him off the stage. A few minutes later, the president returned, but lost consciousness. On his third attempt, he finally ended his speech, wishing everyone “health, happiness and success.”

Heydar Aliyev Photo:

Heydar Aliyev spent almost the whole of May in the Turkish military hospital Gulhane. In June he was at home, and in July he again went to Turkey for treatment. Since then, the head of the republic has not appeared before journalists. At the same time, the Aliyev family nominated two representatives of their family as candidates for the presidency of Azerbaijan at once: Heydar and his son Ilham. In addition, just in case, the son was also made prime minister (perhaps so that, according to the Constitution, he could become acting president if the secret suddenly becomes clear).

At the end of July, Ilham Aliyev visited the hospital President of Turkey, after that the Azerbaijani leader was visited by the representatives of the ruling elite closest to him. In early August, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze expressed his condolences to the Azerbaijanis on the death of Aliyev. Later, however, it was written off as a misunderstanding.

On August 6, a plane took off from Turkey, on board of which was either alive, or already dead Aliyev. According to the official version, he was sent to the United States for treatment, but there is an opinion that the aircraft actually delivered the body to Baku. In any case, Aliyev has not been seen since then, but statements have been made from time to time on his behalf. The way it is now happening with Nursultan Nazarbayev.

For example, in September, the head of the State Security Service of Azerbaijan, Vagif Akhundov, said that his boss was on the mend and would soon return to his homeland. In October, “at the will” of Aliyev, his candidacy was withdrawn from the elections in favor of his son.

Ilham Aliyev won the elections on October 15, 2013. The new president officially announced the death of his father only on December 12, and he was buried on December 15, 2 months after the elections.

According to Muslim traditions, Aliyev was buried in a closed coffin.

Turkmen secrets

The first president of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, according to the official version, died on December 21, 2006 at the age of 66. At the same time, the opposition claimed that the “leader of all Turkmens” had died a few days earlier, but the ruling elite did not want to talk about it in order to quietly resolve the issue of the heir to the throne.

Saparmurat Niyazov Photo:

State Turkmen propaganda claimed that Niyazov was in health “like a horse.” Every year he was examined by the best European doctors, who then declared that the president of Turkmenistan would live for many more years. In turn, the oppositionists claimed that the elderly politician suffered from a whole bunch of serious illnesses, ranging from diabetes and heart failure to epilepsy. As a result, the heart of an elderly man who thought he was a demigod failed.

Be that as it may, the security forces quickly “neutralized” the head of the Turkmen parliament, Ovezgeldy Ataev. According to the Constitution of the republic, it was he who was supposed to lead the country in the event of Niyazov's death, but it suddenly turned out that he had driven his adopted son's girlfriend to suicide, as he opposed their marriage. Under this pretext, on December 22, 2006, Ataev was removed from power, and Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the Minister of Health and a possible illegitimate son of Niyazov, became the acting president of Turkmenistan.

There is an opinion that a coup d'etat took place in the country, which was either provoked by the death of Niyazov, or the death was part of the plan. Since then, nothing has been known about Ataev, perhaps he is still being held in prison or he has already died. According to one version, the ex-presidential candidate was in disgrace because he was going to carry out democratic reforms.

Karimov's stroke

According to official figures, Islam Karimov ruled Uzbekistan for 27 years and never fell ill during this time. Only occasionally did he feel weak. Everything changed on August 27, 2016 – the first president of the republic had a stroke.

Formal Democracy

Denis Letnyakov, Senior Research Fellow at the Department of the History of Political Philosophy of the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Political Science of GAUGN, told MK that all of the above cases occurred in authoritarian states, which at the same time have formal features of democratic ones.

“At the same time, their key problem is that they do not institutionalize the process of change of power. For example, there is a monarchy where everything is clear: one ruler has died, his son or older brother comes to replace him. And there is a democracy where the change of power occurs in elections.

And in authoritarian countries, this mechanism exists only formally, while the ruler tries to keep power in his hands with the help of all possible ways. Accordingly, the death of a ruler or his poor health is stressful for the system,” says Letnyakov.

According to the political scientist, at this moment, a power struggle between various clans and groups begins within the ruling elite. “For example, this is expressed in the fact that not those who should come to power under the Constitution come to power. Inter-clan squabbles go on until the death of the ruler is officially announced …

In the case of Azerbaijan, there was a slightly different story. Heydar Aliyev, long before his death, began to prepare his son for the presidency, but after the death of his father, Ilham, apparently, took time to get used to his new position,” said senior researcher at the Department of the History of Political Philosophy of the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Letnyakov argues that personalist regimes are entirely tied to their leaders, who block any talk of a successor, and this issue is constantly put on hold. “If Niyazov died a relatively young politician, then Karimov, even at the age of 78, could not leave an heir. And it was dangerous for their entourage to show some kind of excessive zeal or ambition, so as not to fall into disgrace, the political scientist says. – When the ruler dies or is incapacitated, they, on the contrary, are activated. At the same time, the death of the president, as a rule, triggers the redistribution of property, so the struggle is not only for power.”

Letnyakov believes that Nursultan Nazarbayev decided to dare to transit power in Kazakhstan just after he looked at the fate of Islam Karimov's family. “Perhaps he did not want the same fate for his children, so he decided to play it safe and control the transit of power,” the political scientist told MK.

“I was dead and rose again”

The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez on March 5, 2013 was rumored from the very beginning. First, after the version was expressed that the oncological disease that killed him was the result of an imperialist conspiracy. And then the former bodyguard of the leader of the Bolivarian Republic, who fled the country, said that in fact Chavez died in December 2012, but the authorities allegedly kept silent about his death for more than two months for political purposes. The same ambiguous version was supported by former Attorney General Luiza Ortega Diaz.

Hugo Chavez Photo:

In March last year, the death of Tanzanian President John Magufuli became known. The Government reported that the cause of his death was a long-term illness of the cardiovascular system. But even before the official announcement of the death of the head of the East African state, there was talk in the country that Magufuli, who had disappeared from public view, fell ill with a coronavirus, and if he had not died already, then he was dying either in Kenya or in India .

Some oppositionists directly expressed the opinion that the president, who had actually gone abroad for treatment from COVID-19, had allegedly already left this world. Only a week after the appearance of such rumors, the authorities announced the death of the president.

At parting with him, several dozen people died as a result of the collapse of a wall along which mourners climbed in the hope of breaking through to the body of the deceased.

In May 2010, the press service of Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua announced the death of the head of state. Meanwhile, rumors about his death have been circulating for quite a long time – in November 2009, the “saga of the disappeared president” began. Then he was last seen in public.

Rumors of various illnesses (a heart condition known as pericarditis as well as kidney problems) of the President are backed up by his constant travels abroad for medical treatment and the apparent aging of his body. Many in Nigeria seriously believed for several months that Umaru Yar'Adua had died, but the authorities were silent about this. Moreover, he was appointed acting. Head of State Goodluck Jonathan.

The president, who was treated abroad, returned to the country, but was rumored to be on life support. The announcement of his death put an end to talk about whether Umaru Yar'Adua was alive or not. But this story received a peculiar continuation in the case of another president of this African country.

Rumors about the death of President Muhammadu Buhari began to circulate in Nigeria in 2017, as the head of state looked ill for several months and spent an extended sick leave in London before leaving for Britain again, handing over his powers to the Vice President in accordance with constitution.

Despite attempts by the authorities to dispel rumors about the death of President Buhari, rumors about his death continued to circulate, replete with a lot of details. It was reported, in particular, that the very next day the body of the deceased would be delivered to the capital of Nigeria. It was alleged that the President had died in London while receiving medical treatment and that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would be sworn in as head of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Subsequently, there were even allegations that Muhammadu Buhari was allegedly replaced by a “clone” – a double from Sudan.

The rumors turned out to be unfounded – President Buhari still heads the state, but it was the lack of transparent information about the leader's health that contributed to the emergence of fake messages .

In 2018, rumors arose that Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba had died. It happened after he passed out at a conference in Saudi Arabia. Sources told the Western press that the Gabonese leader suffered a stroke, but the presidential administration did not provide any specific details about his condition other than that he suffered from fatigue and “bleeding”. This only fueled talk of Bongo's death. But after about six weeks, he appeared in the public eye – video footage captured how the president, dressed in a blue and white robe, talks to King Mohammed VI of Morocco.

There have been many speculations about the death of another African leader who ruled for several decades – President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe. As soon as he disappeared for a few days from the field of view of the media, as immediately there were suggestions that the elderly politician had died. At the same time, even the details of his departure to another world were called. It was reported that Mugabe was dying in a Singapore hospital, it was claimed that (this was in 2016) that he died on an airplane during a flight from Dubai. In the latter case, Robert Mugabe, who landed at Harare airport, laughed at the spreaders of fakes: “Yes, I was dead. It's true that I was dead. I was resurrected, as I always do when I return to my country. I'm real again.”

It all ended with a palace coup, during which Mugabe was removed from presidential power, and then went to Singapore for treatment, where he died at the age of 95.


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