Saparmurat Niyazov ruled Turkmenistan for 16 years after the Soviet Union fell apart, imprisoning, torturing and exiling political opponents, while appointing himself President for Life. Few dictators have been more megalomaniacal. Niyazov outlawed ballet and opera, replaced the word ‘bread’ with his mother’s name, swapped January with his own name and built golden statues of himself, one of which rotated to continue to face the sun. He also closed libraries, shut down internet cafes and included himself in the national anthem. He produced his own national ideology, the Ruhnama. Meanwhile, he allegedly siphoned off into his personal bank account some $3 billion from the country’s hydrocarbon revenues. He died of a heart attack in 2006.