Volodymyr Zelensky Named Time's Person of the Year

The magazine also gives a nod to 'the spirit of Ukraine'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 7, 2022 8:35 AM CST
Volodymyr Zelensky Named Time's Person of the Year
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky speaks via a video link at the opening of the international symposium "The idea of Europe" in Kaunas, Lithuania, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022.   (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

Elon Musk did not repeat as Time's Person of the Year. The 2022 honor went to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, though he shares top billing with "the spirit of Ukraine." The decision was announced Wednesday on the Today Show, with Time Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal saying the 44-year-old seized the world's attention at the start of the year and hasn't let go. "Whether one looks at this story of Ukraine with a sense of hope or a sense of fear, and the story is, of course, not fully written yet ... Zelensky has really galvanized the world in a way we haven’t seen in decades," Felsenthal said.

Read the lengthy essay on Zelensky, written by Time reporter Simon Shuster, here. An excerpt: "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. If that seems like a natural thing for a leader to do in a crisis, consider historical precedent. Only six months earlier, the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani—a far more experienced leader than Zelensky—fled his capital as Taliban forces approached."

"Early in the Second World War, the leaders of Albania, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Poland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Yugoslavia, among others, fled the advance of the German Wehrmacht and lived out the war in exile. There wasn’t much in Zelensky’s biography to predict his willingness to stand and fight. ... [but] his decision to stay at the compound in the face of possible assassination set an example, making it more difficult for his underlings to cut and run. ... Instead of running for their lives, many Ukrainians grabbed whatever weapons they could find and ran to defend their towns and cities against an invading force armed with tanks and attack helicopters."

Time has selected a Person of the Year annually since 1927. This year's other winners include the women of Iran as 2022's Heroes of the Year, Blackpink as 2022's Entertainer of the Year, and Aaron Judge as 2022's Athlete of the Year. (Read more Time's Person of the Year stories.)

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