Zelensky Named Time's Person Of The Year, 15 Years After Putin

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Dec 07, 2022 - 09:40 PM

For many, perhaps the biggest news is this: Time magazine is still a thing.

After already "winning" an Oscar, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been named Time's coveted Person of the Year, the magazine announced Wednesday, after he days ago made the shortlist of 10 finalists. Zelensky has indeed become among the world's most recognizable faces since Russia's Feb.24 invasion which has since driven headlines for 2022 and introduced some degree of chaos and huge uncertainty in global markets. Zelensky was named alongside (or rather as representing), the "spirit of Ukraine" - according to the new cover.

For this reason, a number of pundits considered it entirely predictable. The lengthy Time write-up on its newly named person of the year casts Zelensky as a central action hero staving off the nefarious invading forces under Vladimir Putin.

Recounting how the Ukrainian leader traveled in-person to stroll through newly liberated Kherson just last month, which represented a huge blow to Russian war aims, Time wrote: "His bodyguards were urging him to wait. The Russians had destroyed the city’s infrastructure, leaving it with no water, power, or heat. Its outskirts were littered with mines. Government buildings were rigged with trip wires."

Further the publication highlighted the danger to Zelensky's personal safety: "On the highway to Kherson, an explosion had destroyed a bridge, rendering it impassable. As they fled, the Russians were also suspected of leaving behind agents and saboteurs who could try to ambush the presidential convoy, to assassinate Zelensky or take him hostage. There would be no way to ensure his safety on the central square, where crowds had gathered to celebrate the city’s liberation, within range of Russian artillery." He's presented as not only the global diplomatic voice and 'conscience' of Ukraine, but a 'last action hero' of sorts.

Commenting on the significance, and his role in the war as a unifier and symbol of Ukrainian national resistance that citizens and global allies alike can rally around, Time concluded of that harrowing episode: "By rolling into the city that Vladimir Putin still claimed as his own, the leader of Ukraine would blow a hole through the stories of conquest and imperial glory that Russian propagandists had been using for months to justify the war. Zelensky’s visit would deepen the embarrassment of the Russian retreat and strengthen the Ukrainian will to carry on through the winter."

But speaking of a dreary, frigid and a long... sure to be energy-starved winter for Europe which lies ahead, Zelensky and his policies have also been seen as hugely controversial among some sectors of Europe and the US, especially on the right (for example, Viktor Orban's Hungary leading among the critics)... he now takes his place among many "controversial" historical figures who were named "Person of the Year", ironically enough. 

For starters, there's been a growing number of Republican leaders in US Congress who have expressed their discomfort and frustration at the more, more and more money Zelensky asks the American people to provide in aid and weaponry. GOP leadership has of late come under fire for saying Biden has issued Zelensky a "blank check" in terms of foreign aid. At one point in the early summer, there were widespread reports that Biden in a rare moment accused his Ukrainian counterpart of being "ungrateful" for the billions in aid already given.

Zelensky has also stood accused of implementing policies which seek to wipe out the Russian language and the centuries-long cultural presence through a series of laws, the most recent of which is an attempt to ban and dismantle the largest Orthodox Church in the country (which is under the Russian patriarchate). His critics further say he's enabled far-right and neo-Nazi elements of conducting anti-Russian 'cleansing' operations, particularly in Ukraine's east.

Underscoring the 'celebrity rise' of Zelensky and his name recognition around the world, last month actor Sean Penn actually bestowed his own Oscar award on the Ukrainian leader. The president's international 'fame' also grew while spending the opening months of the war giving virtual addresses to parliaments around the world, and before global bodies like the WEF in Davos and G7. He had encouraged US Congress to "close the skies" - a reference to his desired aim to get the Pentagon to implement a No Fly Zone which many analysts warned would lead straight to WWIII and possible nuclear Armaggedon.

The shortlist of candidates for this year's Person of the Year award, which can be viewed here, included names as diverse as Elon Musk, Xi Jinping, Ron DeSantis and even Liz Cheney.

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Meanwhile, and as expected every time this season of the year rolls around, the memes have begun with their usual fury and colorful takes...