Against the CPJ
Does Leonid Kuchma suffer from delusions of grandeur?
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma threatening to sue the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) demonstrates that he has no appreciation of the illegitimacy of his position, nor of the impossibility of his threatened suit succeeding. Through most of Kuchma's life, mainly as a communist bureaucrat and more recently as godfather of Ukraine, bullying has succeeded, and when confronted with the unflattering evaluation of him published by the CPJ, Kuchma bullies out of life-long habit, reflexively, forgetful that now he is no longer shaking his fist at an underling in his rocket factory in Dnipropetrovske, but rather has been transformed into a flea shaking his fist at an elephant. Perhaps the explanation of Kuchma's threat of the CPJ is that his repeated success in intimidating journalists within Ukraine has gone to his head and has left him with the sense that he is able to intimidate journalists the world over. Perhaps Kuchma is unable to distinguish suing a Ukrainian journalist in a Ukrainian kangaroo court under Ukrainian law from suing Walter Cronkite together with Peter Arnett together with Tom Brokaw together with Dan Rather together with Bernard Shaw together with many others in an American court under American law. One wonders if Kuchma realizes who he would be up against, or if he would be able to recognize even a single name on the CPJ Board of Directors below. Perhaps instead of embarking on an ill-fated campaign to extend his control of journalism to American journalism, Kuchma would do better to begin planning his defense against charges that he violated campaign laws to win his presidency in 1994, that he took the lead in plundering Ukraine, that he viewed the deployment of mafia violence to be a prerogative of his office, and that he calculated that the destruction of Ukraine's nascent free press would be good for the country.