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“The clearest choice in memory”


Time The magazine announced on Wednesday that it had chosen Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as the person of the year 2022, calling it obvious in view of the head of state’s ubiquity and his ability to “galvanize the world” around his cause.

“The Spirit of Ukraine”, a nebulous concept which apparently includes famous Spanish chef José Andrés, has also been recognized as the 2022 “Person of the Year”.

Ukraine has faced a Russian invasion, fueled for most of its history by Russian-backed proxies in the eastern Donbas region, since 2014 when Russian leader Vladimir Putin announced his country would colonize the peninsula. Crimean Ukrainian. Zelensky inherited that war when he was elected as the “pro-Russian” pick in 2019 over incumbent Petro Poroshenko. Zelensky immediately appeared suspicious of the negotiating formula he inherited from Zelensky, especially following a fateful meeting with Putin himself, chaperoned by the leaders of France and Germany, which came to nothing. Prior to the recent invasion wave, Zelensky demanded a new negotiation format with “serious” countries involved instead of France and Germany.

In February, after years of minimal progress for Russia on the Donbass front, Putin announced a “special operation” to oust Zelensky, calling the Ukrainian president and his administration an illegitimate “Nazi” regime. Putin’s regime has claimed that since pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in a popular uprising in 2014, he, not Zelensky, is the country’s true democratic leader. Yanukovych currently lives in Russia; Zelensky, then a sitcom and sketch comedian, played no notable role in the events that toppled Yanukovych.

Zelensky responded to the new operation with outrage, noting that the “Nazi” label was particularly offensive given that he is Jewish and his ancestors fought in the Soviet army against the Nazis in World War II. The president then chose to stay in Kyiv and stage a large-scale nationwide military mobilization, distributing thousands of firearms to civilians and reportedly refusing transport out of the country.

Zelensky also launched a relentless media campaign that made him one of the most recognizable faces in the world.

“This year’s pick was the clearest in memory,” Time acknowledged in his explanation of the process that led to Zelensky’s choice. “Whether the battle for Ukraine fills us with hope or fear, Volodymyr Zelensky has galvanized the world in a way we haven’t seen in decades.”

“In the weeks following the start of the Russian bombardment on February 24, his decision not to flee Kyiv but to stay and rally support was fatal,” the magazine observed, applauding “the meticulous construction of the image and Zelensky’s repetition in his message. He was frank, sometimes sarcastic, and always straight to the point: we must save Ukraine to save democracy.

TimeZelensky’s extended profile provides insight into his recent visit to Kherson, a southern city that Putin “annexed” alongside three other regions in September: the two Donbass regions, Donetsk and Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia. Two months later, the Ukrainian army announced that it had liberated the city of Kherson, and Zelensky traveled there to hoist the Ukrainian flag himself.

Simon Shuster, who wrote the profile, notes that the Ukrainian government allowed him to integrate with Zelensky for nine months before the article was published.

The president claimed his staff were “100% against” his visit and admitted it was “a little reckless”. Time noted that Zelensky had obvious “information warfare” reasons for showing his face in Kherson, but Zelensky claimed he needed it in an attempt to keep the townspeople’s spirits up.

“They will fall into a depression now, and it will be very difficult,” Zelensky said. “In my opinion, it is my duty to go there and show them that Ukraine is back, that it supports them. Maybe that will give them enough of a boost to last a few more days. But I’m not sure. I do not harbor such illusions.

Shuster’s conclusion after nine months with Zelensky — and multiple meetings with the president throughout his political career — is that 2022 has brought about a dramatic “transformation” for the president.

“Aids who once saw him as a lightweight are now praising his toughness. The slights that might once have upset him now only elicit a shrug,” Shuster wrote. “Some of his allies miss old Zelensky, the boyish-smiling prankster. But they realize he must be different now, much tougher and deaf to distractions, or his country might not survive.

Profile is uncritical of Zelensky, omitting glamor vogue photo op gaffe, Zelensky scandalizing the Israeli Knesset by comparing the Russian invasion to the Holocaust, and Zelensky’s failure to galvanize almost any support in Africa or Latin America. Shuster admits that Zelensky’s campaign to ensure his face is everywhere on TV and in magazines has “at times become tedious” for Ukrainians themselves, however, saying his administration has expressed concern that that the Ukrainians had “begun to disconnect”.

Shuster also notes that some observers have expressed concern that Zelensky has “authoritarian tendencies, stripping power from the oligarchs and seeking to imprison political opponents whom he considers traitors”, but does not dwell on the question.
In his “Spirit of Ukraine” profile, Time applauds the Ukrainian people alongside foreigners who have joined the war effort.

“Chef José Andrés launched his humanitarian enterprise in a war zone that had been one of the breadbaskets of the world,” the magazine observed, referring to the Spanish chef famous for his involvement in political causes. The profile also features a British doctor, David Nott, who traveled to Ukraine to help the government against Russia.

“The fight had been lonelier eight years earlier, when Russia took Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine,” Time recognized.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.


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