Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan seized power after the collapse of the Soviet Union and declared his country independent with himself as president. Karimov's security forces infamously boiled alive two opposition leaders in 2002. Three years later, in an effort to stamp out anti-regime protestors, Karimov oversaw the murder of hundreds. He has held referendums to give him a sheen of electoral legitimacy, but he doesn’t allow opposition parties to run against him, all but ensuring victory. He maintains the biggest threat to his regime is Islamic extremists—a legitimate fear, perhaps—but veils brutal crackdowns on opposition movements as anti-terrorist operations.