Within minutes, Wednesday night, a rumor ignited social media. Erdogan reportedly suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized, his family called to his bedside. No source is cited, but that did not prevent the fake news from spreading, via pro-Russian accounts and on that of a Chinese state television channel… So much so that the Turkish presidency was forced to publish a quick denial.
"The allegations that the President of the Republic suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized are not accurate", reacted in the evening the "center for the fight against disinformation" of the presidency, without dispelling all the questions . Equally fanciful claims point to poisoning by Russia… “The president is fine and will resume his program as soon as possible,” swept away his communications director, Fahrettin Altun, on Wednesday.
But the concern has been perceptible since Recep Tayyip Erdogan's discomfort on Tuesday evening, when he was responding to a live interview on several television channels. The broadcast was abruptly cut off and, after a long pause, the president returned to the set, his features drawn, to explain that he had caught a "stomach flu" from a "heavy campaign schedule".
All planned trips, speeches and speeches on "Reis" television were canceled on Wednesday and Thursday. On April 27, Erdogan therefore followed remotely, from the presidential palace, the inauguration ceremony of the first reactor of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant (South), built by Russia. But he appeared on television on this occasion. On the images, broadcast by Turkish television, the head of state has drawn features, to listen to a message by videoconference from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
17 days before the election and while the Turks abroad, 3.5 million voters, began to vote on Thursday, the Turkish president who is seeking a new mandate is on forced rest. An unusual cut for him who, in such circumstances, does not spare himself. As often, his program provided Wednesday trips to three cities in Anatolia with three meetings. In the countryside, Erdogan swallows the miles. He also does not hesitate to taste the dishes offered to him, as was the case on Tuesday, not without risk.
Aged 69, in power for 20 years, the strong man of Turkey must deal with increasingly fragile health, he who, younger, was known to be a force of nature. He is said to have diabetes, epilepsy, subject to sudden drops in blood pressure… The alert of recent days is not the first. Already in 2006, his bodyguards had to break the windows of his car by borrowing a mace from workers on a construction site, when he had passed out inside. The Turkish leader had suffered a crisis of hypoglycemia, in the middle of fasting during Ramadan.
In 2021, several incidents had reinforced fears of failing health. In February, he struggled down a flight of stairs, clinging to his wife's arm. In August, he staggered dangerously while participating in an official ceremony at the mausoleum of Ataturk, under a blazing sun. On several occasions, he fell asleep in the middle of a meeting. He had also appeared, tottering, at the G20. The American journal Foreign Policy then echoed "stories alleging that Erdogan is plagued by increasingly frequent memory loss, respiratory problems, vomiting" and an "implant of 'a defibrillator'. To respond to this article, the president appeared the next day playing basketball with his advisers…
The lack of transparency about the health of the "Reis" has fueled the craziest rumors for years. In 2011, Erdogan, who was then prime minister, disappeared from the political scene for nearly four months, an eternity by his scale, after colon surgery. Polyps, potentially cancerous growths, had been removed from his intestine, as explained by surgeon Mehmet Fuzun. An operation then presented as "preventive", which many had interpreted as the detection of cancer. Nothing has ever come to confirm it.