Azerbaijani President Haidar Aliev, 75, was flown yesterday from Baku to Ankara for emergency treatment at the army’s medical academy clinic there. Two medical teams, sent by Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, examined Aliev in Baku and accompanied him aboard a specially equipped medical plane to Turkey. Demirel met Aliev on landing and personally escorted him to the clinic, where Aliev briefly appeared before reporters.
Hours before Aliev’s takeoff, Azerbaijani state radio and television interrupted regular programs to broadcast a communique from the Health Ministry. It officially diagnosed Aliev with bronchitis and a respiratory infection, requiring up to a week of hospitalization. Local speculation focuses on the possibility of heart trouble. Aliev suffered an infarct in 1987, but has since been in robust health. Late last year, the American cardiac surgeon Michael DeBakey–who had earlier operated on Russian President Boris Yeltsin–met twice with Aliev in Baku officially to discuss establishing a cardiology center there.
Aliev yesterday left instructions to the assembled senior members of the Azerbaijani government. Parliament Chairman Murtuz Aleskerov will be discharging the duties of the head of state in Aliev’s absence (International agencies, January 17, 18).
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