We live in times of free access to communication channels. At any given moment we learn where and what is happening in the world. Despite these advanced technologies, but mostly their access to them, there are still heads of state who are not afraid to concentrate all power in their hands and thus become dictators.
Modern dictators do not have to be ferocious and terrible people, filled with hatred and complexity of greatness. It is enough today for these people to believe that no one is older than them, and to exert physical or mental pressure on their population.
Today’s dictators are smart and educated people who have graduated from prestigious universities, speaking two or more languages. Today’s dictators do not hide from society, on the contrary – they use means to propagate false information and instill fear, thus controlling and managing their dictatorship.
In the following lines, we will present the top 5 of the biggest dictators today and why they are in our ranking.
5. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia
Vladimir Putin is the president of Russia, who likes to promote “the freedom of the Russian Federation and its citizens,” but this is not the case. Over the past decade, hundreds of protests have been staged in Russia’s cities and towns demanding his resignation. Very often, these protests were suppressed with the use of police and military force.
Vladimir Putin does not like criticism, opposition, or any kind of free journalism. The country ranks 150th in terms of freedom of speech according to Reporters Without Borders’ annual ranking. Dozens of journalists have been killed in Russia over the past ten years, and as many opposition leaders have been jailed on some pretext for breaking the law.
There are no striking cases in Putin’s dictatorial rule at all. There is a case in which, in order not to be admitted to the elections, an opposition leader was forcibly taken to hospitals with a diagnosis of Kovid-19, and “cured” immediately after the election. Vladimir Putin is accused of issuing death orders outside his country – dozens of dissidents poisoned or killed in strange circumstances around the world, complicity in the chemical attacks of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Syrians in 2017, the removal of the Malaysian passenger plane over Ukraine and even in the military conquest of Crimea and the start of military operations in the Donbas and Lugansk, again in Ukraine.
In the last 12 months alone, two journalistic investigations have confirmed Vladimir Putin’s status as a dictator – the assassination attempt on opposition leader Sergei Navalny and the million-dollar private palace.
4. Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria
Bashar al-Assad is a Syrian president who was re-elected as president in 2021 and has ruled Syria for 21 years. Bashar al-Assad is a doctor by profession, a graduate of the University of Damascus.
Despite his noble profession, he plunged the country into civil war after many of his compatriots staged protests that began on January 26, 2011, calling for a higher standard of living and demands for respect and increased human rights in the country. Bashar al-Assad does not listen to the people. Police and Syrian Rami are trying to stop protests across the country, which are already taking place one year and take for the first 12 months 5000 victims and 1200 injured.
Under the Syrian president’s rule, dozens of journalists have been arrested, imprisoned, executed, or disappeared without a trace. Syria ranks 173rd in freedom of speech in the Reporters Without Borders annual ranking.
In 2017, Bashar al-Assad was accused of carrying out a chemical attack on his compatriots. The Syrian civil war has been going on for 10 years, and to retain power, Bashar al-Assad has officially invited the Russian army to enter the country and guarantee his dictatorship. That’s what happens.
3. Castro, Castro, and Diaz, the Cuban presidents
Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, and Miguel Diaz have been Cuban presidents and rulers since the beginning of the communist revolution on the Island of Freedom, in which the revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara took an active and significant part.
After the communists took power from an otherwise social Cuba in those years, hundreds of journalists, dissidents, and citizens have been persecuted by the communist regime, imprisoned, executed, or killed without a trace. Cuba ranks 171st in Reporters Without Borders’ annual ranking of free speech.
The three leaders have plunged Cuba into such a deep recession that the standard of living in the country has been below the acceptable minimum for 50 years. No production, no trade, no money. In general, Cubans live miserably and in fear of possible repression against them by the Communists.
Cuba, like other countries ruled by dictators, uses military force to quell any rebellion, discontent, or attempt to express free will.
The actions of the three dictators are the reason why hundreds of thousands of Cubans were killed in their attempts to cross the border and seek asylum in the United States, and millions of Cubans emigrated and lived in the United States.
2. Kim Jong Un, Supreme Leader and Marshal of North Korea
Kim Jong Un is the hereditary president and commander-in-chief of North Korea. There are no elections in North Korea. The president is elected by inheritance. Kim Jong-Un rules the country by instilling fear, a tool used by secret North Korean militias to ensure that the cult of personality is properly understood by the population.
North Korea ranks penultimate in freedom of speech in Reporters Without Borders’ annual ranking. There is no freedom of speech in this country and there is only state media. The state media heavily manipulates and lies to society by maintaining a policy of cult of personality. There is no public internet access in North Korea – only government officials have the privilege of using it.
There are whole cities built in North Korea with big, modern, and tall buildings, but no one lives in them. They are used to manipulate the world community to show a “quality” way of life. In North Korea, cars are rare. The countryside is full of starving people who do not even have the strength to cultivate crops to feed themselves.
Kim Jong Un has a policy of execution – anyone suspected of being a “traitor” can be shot on his orders, whether it is a senior party leader or an ordinary citizen. Kim Jong Un uses a policy of intimidation towards his neighbors and the world. Much of the state money, instead of being used for education and a higher standard of living, go to arms production, weekly missile tests, and deep media manipulation. In North Korea, there are still people who live in caves, near rural areas, and do not know or understand the world today, fearing even the available technology in the country.
1. Isaias Afewerki, President of Eritrea
There is no war in Eritrea. After all, the greatest dictator of our time is right there – Isaias Afewerki. His dictatorship is based entirely on fear and cruelty. Journalists around the world agree that Eritrea is worse than North Korea.
Isaias Afewerki has uprooted all roots of any journalism in the country, leaving only his entourage to dictate the news. Eritrea ranks last in Freedom of Speech in the annual Reporters Without Borders ranking – 180th.
Isaiah Afewerki obliges almost every man or woman to be part of the country’s army, with no fixed date of dismissal, so a soldier can have a decade of military service. Soldiers go around towns and villages, knock on doors and pick up young teenagers, enlisting them in the army. The average age at which young Eritreans join the army is between 13 and 14 years.
Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki has been personally accused by the UN Council of crimes against humanity for repression, torture, missing or brutally murdered people, and endless military service.
Isaiah Afewerki and his regime control Eritrean money. There is a limit on money withdrawals in the country, thus Isaiah Afeverki is trying to stop the flow of emigrants from Eritreans to Europe and other countries in Africa. In reality, Eritreans do not have access to their money. According to international agencies, the population of Eritrea is declining by 5,000-6,000 people every month – either because of killings and repression or because of emigration.