Ranking the World’s Dictators

by Nathan Hamm on 1/23/2006 · 6 comments

If you’ve ever picked up a Sunday paper in the US, you’ve no doubt seen the PARADE magazine insert. I quit getting the paper long ago, so it was via Alan Cordova that I saw that PARADE just came out with their annual ranking of the world’s worst dictators. Karimov rocketed up 10 spots to number five this year.

5) Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan. Age 67. In power since 1990. Last year’s rank: 15

Until 2005, the worst excesses of Karimov’s regime had taken place in the torture rooms of his prisons. But on May 13, he ordered a mass killing that could not be concealed. In the city of Andijan, 23 businessmen, held in prison and awaiting a verdict, were freed by their supporters, who then held an open meeting in the town square. An estimated 10,000 people gathered, expecting government officials to come and listen to their grievances. Instead, Karimov sent the army, which massacred hundreds of men, women and children. A 2003 law made Karimov and all members of his family immune from prosecution forever.

Turkmenbashi held steady at number 8 this year, and the only other person from the former Soviet Union who made the top 20 is, unsurprisingly, Lukashenko. One of the more disturbing things about the list is that they point out that holding steady actually indicates a declining situation as the trend across the list has been for things to get worse.

And why bother mention what a newspaper insert has to say? Compared to more “serious” publications, PARADE reaches far more people.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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Bill Walsh January 23, 2006 at 2:16 pm

Not to minimize the Andijân massacre, but I think they’re underrating good ol’ Türkmenbashı. I mean, the dude has shut down libraries and hospitals and gutted the entire educational system. What’s a brotha gotta do to get some props?

ANGRY January 23, 2006 at 3:55 pm

Da, blya, na hera tut konkurs na mesto ustraivat’, mochit’ nado takih i vsyo, blya, ustroili tut, ponimaesh, miss world 🙁

ANGRY January 23, 2006 at 4:18 pm

Sorry, try to translate it in English. I don’t understand the aim of any classification of dictators, it’s illogical to appreciate the cruelty and atrocity of every tyrant and rank them. Everyone of them can go as far as he can in his dirty affairs. Just some of them have more or less restraining internal and external factors conditioning the intensity of theirs atrocities. That’s it, no need no more to organise “miss world” competition. Just punish them as they deserve it and make a point with all that boolshit. Prosto zaeblo vsyo uje, prosto zaeblo.

Brian January 23, 2006 at 4:40 pm

I might agree with you, but having such a “ranking” makes it attractive for publishing… and that’s why such a list can make it on the front page of a well read news-magazine. Regardless of who’s #1 or #10, many Americans will read the name Islam Karimov or Saparamut Niyazov or Omar al-Bashir for the first time here, which is a positive (albiet minor) thing.

Laurence January 23, 2006 at 7:08 pm

Ferghana.ru has an interesting story in this context about the crackdown that ended the 1992 student riots at Tashkent State University: http://enews.ferghana.ru/detail.php?id=150282150756.53,445,5469068

Kuda January 24, 2006 at 10:57 pm


Interesting link. Do posters have info. on other ‘demonstrations’ in CA either in Soviet times or post Soviet. Looking for articles written by eye-witnesses etc.

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