most of the portraits of Niyazov all over Turkmenistan showed him smiling, though he never looked less reliable, or less amused, than when he was smiling. His smile – and this may be true of all political leaders – was his most sinister feature.

The thing about monsters is, you want to kill them until you meet them, and when you meet them they don’t seem monstrous, and killing them begins to seem unkind.

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