Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been named by TIME magazine as its 2022 Person of the Year. The magazine also acknowledged “the spirit of Ukraine” as a defining factor.
Zelensky, who has been in power since April 2019, has been hailed as a hero for leading the nation with fortitude following the Russian invasion of the country which began in February 2022.
The decision to recognise Zelensky was, as per the magazine’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal, “the most clear-cut in memory.”
“Whether the battle for Ukraine fills one with hope or with fear, Volodymyr Zelensky galvanized the world in a way we haven’t seen in decades,” Felsenthal wrote in a profile for the Ukrainian President.
“In a world that had come to be defined by its divisiveness, there was a coming together around this cause, around this country,” Felsenthal added.
What TIME says about Volodymyr Zelensky
‘Courage is contagious’
In a special essay for the Ukrainian leader, TIME reporter Simon Shuster observed that Zelensky refused to escape abroad when Russia invaded. He remained on the ground and carried out highly risky visits to the frontline areas to boost the morale of his troops as well as the Ukrainian people.
“Zelensky’s success as a wartime leader has relied on the fact that courage is contagious. It spread through Ukraine’s political leadership in the first days of the invasion, as everyone realized the President had stuck around,” Shuster wrote.
Underlining the resoluteness of the former comedian who had no experience in political life till he became President, Shuster remarked that the experience on the stage actually “turned out to have its advantages.”
“Zelensky was adaptable, trained not to lose his nerve under pressure. He knew how to read a crowd and react to its moods and expectations. Now his audience was the world. He was determined not to let them down,” Shuster wrote.
Speaking to the magazine, Zelensky said that he wants to ensure Russia is unable to invade his country ever again.
“Later we will be judged. I have not finished this great, important action for our country. Not yet,” he told TIME.
What is the ‘spirit of Ukraine’?
TIME also highlighted what it described as the “spirit of Ukraine” alongside Zelensky. Its cover, therefore, features Zelensky in his army-green sweater, surrounded by numerous individual Ukrainian figures, the general people, and the Ukrainian national flags.
Felsenthal said that the term was for all Ukrainians anywhere in the world who stood behind their country in the time of crisis, including many who “fought behind the scenes.”
Among the names Felsenthal highlighted were Ievgen Klopotenko, a chef who provided thousands of free meals to Ukrainians; Yuliia Payevska, a medic who was in Russian captivity for three months; chef José Andrés, whose World Central Kitchen served over 180 million free meals; and, Dr. David Nott, a Welsh surgeon who visited Ukraine multiple times to help local doctors learn how to treat war wounds.
— UkraineWorld (@ukraine_world) December 6, 2022
Other finalists for TIME magazine’s Person of the Year 2022 were the US Supreme Court, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Iranian protesters.
The magazine has already recognised Women in Iran as Heroes of the Year 2022, K-pop band BLACKPINK as Entertainer of the Year 2022, American baseball player Aaron Judge as Athlete of the Year 2022, and Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh as Icon of the Year 2022.
(Main image: Володимир Зеленський/@ZelenskyyUa/Twitter; Featured image: MFA of Ukraine/@MFA_Ukraine/Twitter)