Being a politician means power. And power means, on occasion, being able to commit terrible crimes and get away with it. Politicians who killed people range from dictators to diplomats who literally got away with murder thanks to diplomatic immunity. Sometimes they pulled the trigger, other times they got someone else to do it. But they all came out the other end with minor repercussions - if any at all.
The 2016 revelation that Vladimir Putin likely ordered the poisoning of a dissident former KGB spy is just one of many allegations against powerful dictators. Joseph Stalin personally masterminded a robbery in which 40 people were killed, while Adolf Hitler purged his own ranks and ordered the executions of bitter rivals. Then there are the drunken escapades of powerful leaders in cars, and the brutal Chechen leader accused of beheading enemy soldiers.Here are some politicians from the last 100 years who either murdered people or personally ordered deaths, and suffered little or no consequences.
While the Russian premier has long been suspected of having political opponents and dissidents killed, a British inquiry released in January 2016 all but confirmed it. The lengthy report pinned the blame for the 2006 death of former KGB officer turned Putin critic Alexander Litvinenko on Putin, saying he almost certainly ordered the man to be poisoned with polonium, a rare radioactive isotope found in Russian nuclear reactors.Litvinenko was likely poisoned in November 2006, when he met two Russian defectors for tea in London.
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Nationality: Russia, Soviet Union
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Sao Boonwaat committed what's likely the most famous abuse of diplomatic immunity in history. In 1967, Boonwaat was Burma's ambassador to Sri Lanka. He found out his wife was having an affair, so he shot her dead. Then he methodically built a funeral pyre on his front lawn, put the body on it, and set it on fire.Because the embassy was technically on Burmese soil (as all embassies are considered home soil of the country to which they belong), Boonwaat was able to invoke diplomatic immunity and was quickly released after he was arrested. He returned to Burma and never faced justice for the murder.
Stalin's murderous reign over the Soviet Union left millions of his own people dead, often executed via lists that Uncle Joe himself personally approved. But in the early days of Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution, bandits like Stalin paid for their activities through an old-fashioned form of fundraising: bank robbery.
Stalin personally planned what became the 1907 Tiflis stagecoach robbery, when a group of Bolsheviks attacked a stagecoach carrying over 300,000 rubles (now valued at over $3 million) to the Tiflis branch of the State Bank of the Russian Empire. A gunfight broke out and 40 robbers, guards, and civilians were either shot dead or blown up by bombs. Stalin's involvement in the heist itself is disputed, as different stories have him doing everything from personally fighting police to calmly standing off to the side smoking his pipe.The bandits got away, though the notes they stole were already marked, and thus worthless. Only one man was ever tried for the crime; he was latter killed in an accident that Stalin might have orchestrated.
Birthplace: Gori, Georgia
Nationality: Russian Empire, Soviet Union
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While Hitler was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people before and during World War II, he had a much more hands on role in a series of murders carried out in 1934. During the purge of the Nazi Party, called the Night of the Long Knives, Hitler personally ordered the execution of dozens of left-wingers, anti-Nazis, and members of his own paramilitary organization, the SA, who Hitler felt were a threat to his power.Hitler even took part in the purge, though he likely didn't pull the trigger. He had the SA get together at an isolated resort, then gathered a large band of SS men to ambush them in their sleep. Hitler himself arrested SA leader Ernst Rohm, held him at gunpoint, and turned him over to police. He also ordered the on-the-spot shooting of an SA leader and a teenage boy who were in bed together when they were arrested. After considering Rohm's fate for a few days, Hitler personally ordered him shot.
Birthplace: Braunau am Inn, Austria
Nationality: German Reich
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