The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has been named “person of the year 2022” by the American magazine Time. Zelensky outsold other candidates including Chinese President Xi Jinping, US politician Liz Cheney and billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.
The magazine awards the award to the personality deemed to have had the greatest global influence over the past 12 months. The first “person of the year” was in 1927 the American aviator Charles Lindbergh, who was awarded the title after making the first non-stop transatlantic flight from New York to Paris.
“Zelensky’s success as a wartime leader was based on the fact that courage is contagious. It spread through Ukraine’s political leadership in the first days of the invasion, when everyone realized the president was sticking around If this seems like a natural thing for a leader to do during a crisis, consider a historical precedent: Just six months earlier, the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, a far more experienced leader than Zelensky, had fled his capital as Taliban forces approached,” Time reads.
The American magazine points out that there was not much in Zelensky’s biography to “predict his willingness to resist and fight”. In fact, the president “had never served in the military. He had only been president since April 2019” and in the past he had been “actor specializing in improvised comedies and producer in the world of cinema”.
But that very experience turned out to have its perks. “Zelensky was flexible, trained not to lose control under pressure. He knew how to read a crowd and react to their moods and expectations. Now his audience was the world. He was determined not to disappoint them – highlights the magazine – His decision to stay in the compound in the face of possible assassination set an example, making it harder for his underlings to escape.”