It’s on the tip of the tongue of every newcomer who’s entered Kyiv in the last three weeks: Why in Heaven’s name does virtually every store in Kyiv have a poster of Alfred E. Newman plastered up on its entryway?
Has that handsome devil Newman, his popularity all but dead back home in the States, got a new commission going in a country that for years refused to tolerate him? Or is it just another blatant example of copyright piracy? Newcomers, fear not. Newman has made no comebacks in the former USSR, and no trademarks have been illegally appropriated.
In fact, the mug smiling out from those posters is not Newman at all, but the present — and most likely future — president of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma. Why, you ask, is a poster of the president adorning virtually every storefront in this supposedly democratic country?