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The Globe and Mail

Will history absolve them? Rehabilitating dead dictators

Despite their crimes, some of history's worst autocrats are finding people willing to defend their legacies

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A man holds a portrait of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin outside the house where he was born in the town of Gori, about 80 kilometres west of Tbilisi, December 21, 2011. Georgian communists gathered to mark the birthday anniversary of Stalin on Wednesday.

DAVID MDZINARISHVILI/REUTERS

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A monument of 14th-century conqueror Timur (aka Tamerlane) is featured prominently in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Geoffrey York/The Globe and Mail

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A 40-metre statue of Genghis Khan and his horse, in stainless steel, sits atop the Mongolian steppe in Tsonjin Boldog, about an hour's drive from Ulan Bator. The 13th-century ruler has been rebranded in Mongolia on everything from an international airport to mugs, with a focus on his lighter side.

DAN LEVIN/NYT

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North Korean soldiers visit the bronze statues of founder Kim Il-sung, left, and late leader Kim Jong-il at Mansudae in Pyongyang, in this photo taken and provided by Kyodo April 15, 2013, the birthday of Kim Il-sung.

KYODO/REUTERS

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Workers install marble steps around a newly unveiled statue of Hastings Banda, former dictator of Malawi, in the capital city Lilongwe.

Erin Conway-Smith/The Globe and Mail

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Jean-Bedel Bokassa, deposed ruler of the Central African Republic, poses in front of his 18-room castle at Hardricourt, France in November, 1985. A French-backed putsch deposed him in 1979 after witnesses claimed that he had clubbed children to death. Bokassa was allowed to stay in France after his arrival in 1983 when French courts ruled that he was entitled to retain the French citizenship awarded to him after the Second World War.

Michel Lipchitz/AP

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Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, shown at the White House in Washington, Feb. 14, 1967. The emperor was greeted by President Lyndon Johnson.

Associated Press

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Zairian President Mobutu Sese Seko speaks to the press at his palace in Kinshasa, Saturday April 12, 1997. Mobutu said that he was ready to speak to rebel Leader Laurent Kabila but rejected his ultimatum to resign by Sunday.

LAURENT REBOURS/ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Vietnamese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh, shown Sept. 20, 1963.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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