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My President Is Taller Than Your President

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev (left) and Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian in happier times (file photo)

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev (left) and Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian in happier times (file photo)

As Armenia and Azerbaijan squabble over the case of Ramil Safarov, the Azerbaijani Army officer pardoned by President Ilham Aliyev for the brutal ax murder of an Armenian military officer in 2004, the long-festering regional rivalry appears to have devolved into the absurd.

A graphic prepared by RFE/RL's Belarus Service for a story looking at how height might affect personality, using leaders from current and former CIS countries as examples, has turned up on the Azerbaijani human rights website

Or at least part of the graphic has turned up.

THE ORIGINAL GRAPHIC (click to enlarge):

As Haqqin writes:

The president of Azerbaijan is taller than all the rest. … The Belarusian Service of Radio Liberty has written about a very curious new study on presidents. After researching their financial holdings, media activities, military and political resources, the journalists began a new search: for the tallest president in the post-Soviet space. Ilham Aliyev was selected as the tallest head of state among CIS countries, and the Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian was the shortest. Looking at the graphic above, our president appears a full head taller than the president of our unfriendly neighbor.

The sight of the gargantuan Aliyev towering over the tiny Sarkisian no doubt has delighted many Azerbaijanis.

There's just one problem.

The version of the graphic posted by Haqqin conveniently removes the tallest president in the CIS -- Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovych -- making Aliyev only appear to be the tallest.

The whole thing brings to mind the Soviet practice of airbrushing photos to remove individuals who had fallen out of favor with the Kremlin. Or more recently, the disappearing act of an expensive watch from the wrist of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill.

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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