Europe has had its fair share of brutal dictators throughout history – Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco, and Yosip Broz Tito, are just some of the biggest names from that list. And of course, we shouldn’t forget about the two most famous dictators from the Soviet Union, Vladimir Ilich Lenin, and Joseph Stalin. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, many believed that the time of dictatorships was over. Although some counties can brag with their fair and just governments, that isn’t the case for everyone. There have been some leaders whose ruling could be described as a pure dictatorship, even though such a thing would never be admitted. Let’s look at the three biggest post-Soviet dictators in Europe and you can decide for yourself if the time of dictatorships is truly over.
Alexander Lukashenko – Belarus
In 1994, Belarus got its first president, Alexander Lukashenko. In his 25 years of being a president, Lukashenko has made sure that the symbols and the image of the Soviet Union are retained as much as possible. Ever since his first election, Belarus has been nicknamed ‘Europe’s last dictatorship’, and it is not even a question who is to blame for that.
So far he has made very questionable choices for his country bu neglecting human rights on numerous occasions. In a couple of his statements, he seemed to support Adolf Hitler, praising his firm authority. On another occasion, he made anti-Semitic and homophobic remarks, which made everyone question the morality with which he leads Belarus. Not to mention that he as won every election with almost no competition but with a lot of rumors of his ruthless strategies and silencing the press.
Ilham Aliyev – Azerbaijan
Ilham Aliyev, the fourth president of Azerbaijan, has been in office ever since 2003. Even though his 17-year long rule is often characterized by the prosperity of the country and many reforms that promoted the growth and the strength of the nation, his dictatorship cannot be overlooked. He wins every election by taking almost 90% of the votes, which isn’t that surprising concerning the fact that he doesn’t have any credible political opponents. What’s more, he tends to imprison anyone who disagrees with his policies or tries to unravel his corrupt ways. Mehman Huseynov, a blogger, is just one of the people who ended up behind the bars and whose freedom of speech has been taken away. He started a hunger strike in prison and other prisoners joined him in protest of the corrupt government and unjust leader. The scary data shows that he has around 128 political prisoners, which just proves that the concept of human rights does not mean anything under the rule of President Ilham Aliyev.
Vladimir Putin – Russia
Vladimir Putin is probably one of the most loved and at the same time hated politicians of our time. Although many would argue that he is not a dictator in the real sense of the word, but that he turns people with his charisma, there are some clear signs of a dictator in this Russian president. You can make the decision about whether Putin is a dictator on your own, we will just highlight some of the aspects of his rule. He has been in office for 20 years, and just like Alexander Lukashenko and Ilham Aliyev, he doesn’t have any worthy opponents in sight. Another circumstance that makes us believe he is close to being a dictator is that the press is always portraying him in the best possible light, which is often the sign of silencing and manipulating the media. People who openly criticize him often find themselves in jail, and as if that wasn’t enough, he introduces laws against groups of people he does not approve of.