Spooky stories

Just in time for Halloween, we asked some of our favorite world leaders what they are most afraid of. We received some great responses (in our imaginations), so settle in with a blanket, a bowl of candy apples, and another bowl of even more candy apples while you read these spine-tingling tales of head-of-state horror.

We asked: “What is your greatest fear?”

Dmitry Medvedev


“I fear that this winter, our esteemed and beloved President Putin will make me go back inside the box until spring. I am not claustrophobic but it is hard to spend the winter inside a small box, especially with our long Russian winters.”

—Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister of Russia

Aníbal Cavaco Silva

Michał Koziczyński / Senat Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej

“When you get to be my age, sometimes the scariest thing is just lying down to go to sleep and wondering if you’ll wake up again. I try not to think about it. But who knows? One of these days, some adventurer might manage to get past all of the booby traps, pry open my coffin, and drive a stake through my heart. But I suppose when it’s your time, it’s your time.”

—Aníbal Cavaco Silva, President of Portugal

Malcolm Turnbull

ITU / I.Wood

“Once a month, on the first night of the new moon, the Beast comes to Parliament House and chooses one employee of the Australian government to drag back to its lair. On one such night I was hiding under my desk, and the Beast came right into my office. It was so close, I could hear its mandibles clicking. I was sure I was a goner, but then it grabbed my secretary Gemma from her hiding place behind the curtain and dragged her away, her screams echoing down the empty hallways. I’ll never forget that night. Although…now that I stop to think about it, I don’t know why we don’t just work from home on the first night of the new moon. I can’t believe I only now thought of that!”

—Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia

John Dramani Mahama

Chatham House

“One time a cashier handed me a bottle of Coke that had my name on it. Right there in large, white letters, it said “John.” I was shaken to my core. Ever since then, I won’t step foot inside of an Au Bon Pain.”

—John Dramani Mahama, President of Ghana

Viktor Orbán

European People’s Party

“Refugees. Can you think of anything more terrifying than a teeming horde of refugees? Whew, I’m getting shivers up my spine just talking about it. I tell you what, here’s some free advice: don’t watch a movie or read a book about refugees when you’re alone in the house at night!”

—Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary

Queen Elizabeth

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

“One day I came home and there was a strange man sitting in my kitchen. He said he was my husband, and he looked just like my husband, but I could tell that something was off. Somehow, I just knew he wasn’t my husband. So, you know, I had to have him killed. But anyway, where was I? Oh yes, fears. My greatest fear is spiders.”

—Elizabeth II, Queen regnant of the United Kingdom

Alexis Tsipras

FrangiscoDer / Wikimedia Commons

“For a while there I was being stalked by a clown marionette that Angela Merkel gave me for my birthday. Luckily, I managed to throw him off my trail. See, the trick was to OH MY GOD THERE HE IS UNDER THE [indistinct screaming]”

—Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece

Alexander Lukashenko


“I have a pretty scary stalker. It started off simple—I would get an email every now and then, congratulating me about something or other and signed ‘Your biggest fan, Kate, xxoo.’ But things escalated from there. Flowers, perfumed letters, clippings of hair in tiny heart-shaped boxes. Then the security detail caught this American woman, ‘Kate,’ trying to scale the fence outside my presidential palace with chloroform and a giant sack labeled “Alexander Lukashenko.” So. I guess what I’m saying is that if I ever disappear, you’ll know what happened.”

—Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus

Erna Solberg

Christian Fredrik Wesenberg / flickr.com

“My greatest fear is trolls. We have big problems with trolls in Norway. And I’m not talking about adorable Frozen-type trolls who sing songs about being love experts. My predecessor was eaten by a troll after driving through the mountains with too light of a security detail. It peeled open his SUV like a can of sardines and ate him in one bite. True story.”

—Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway

Mark Rutte


“I am not in danger. I am the danger. I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCKS.”

—Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands

Barack Obama talking on the phone

Image credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

“Living in the White House…it isn’t always easy. But I’ve figured out that if the ghost starts coming at you, you just shout “Go away, Chester A. Arthur!” and throw pieces of china at him until he slinks back to his lair inside of the elevator shaft. That’s why, whenever I’m at home, I carry a stack of Lincoln’s salad plates around with me.”

—Barack Obama, President of the United States