Who is the shortest world leader?
Until yesterday there was little argument about the holder of this coveted title: at 162cm, or a shade over 5ft 3in, Kim Jong-il, supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea and Great Leader of the People’s Democratic Republic of North Korea, stood head and shoulders below the rest of the field. The only other man in with a shout, according to the list at shortsupport.org, was Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France, who stands 168cm, or just over 5ft 5in tall. This may make him about 4in shorter than Mrs Sarkozy, but is unlikely to give Kim many sleepless nights.
The election of Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev as president of Russia, however, has upset things. For, contrary to the impression given by a campaign poster that shows him standing shoulder-to-shoulder with his mentor Vladimir Putin, Medvedev also measures 162cm from top to toe – a figure that puts him very much in contention. (For the record, Putin is fully 8cm taller; Medvedev’s minders make sure he is photographed from a low angle, and advise him to take a step forward when he’s in a group.)