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Khertek Anchimaa
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World Leader
    (January 1, 1912-November 4, 2008)
    Born in the Bay-Taginsky District, Tuva (now part of Russia)
    Head of state of Tannu Tuva (1940-44)
    First non-hereditary female head of state in the modern world
    Her claim to being the first non-hereditary female head of state is debatable – mainly because Tannu Tuva’s status as an independent state is debatable.
    She was a dedicated Stalinist.
    She was a member of the Special Court that condemned to death ‘right opportunists’ and ‘counter revolutionaries’ (translation: anyone in the government insufficiently enamored of Stalin).
    Her last act as her country’s leader was arranging for its annexation by the Soviet Union.
    At age six, she was fostered out to relatives after her father died in a smallpox epidemic, leaving her mother to raise five children alone.
    She was one of the first women to learn the Tuvan alphabet (adopted in 1930), and was quickly hired to teach it to members of the youth wing of the Tuvan People’s Party.
    She came to the attention of the party leadership through her success in eradicating illiteracy in her district.

Credit: C. Fishel

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