Our listeners and Internet users have nominated two great personalities who left an indelible mark on the world, and who departed in 2011: former anti-communist dissident and first president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel and Apple founder Steve Jobs. You have also nominated the rescue teams at Fukushima who put their lives at risk, to reduce the effects of one of the severest civil nuclear accidents in history, as well as Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Several politicians have also been picked for the "Personality of the Year" title: German chancellor Angela Merkel, Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc, Russian Premier Vladimir Putin, Georgian President Mihail Saakashvili, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Yemeni activist Tawakkol Karman, Burmese human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi, Kisan Baburao Hazare (aka Anna Hazare), a prominent figure of the anti-corruption fight in India, and Eugen Tomac, the head of the Department for the Romanians Around the World. Alongside them, you have nominated the Spanish "indignados" and "Occupy the Wall Street!" activists, as well as politicians who could very well be included in the category of negative heroes: former North Korean and Libyan leaders, Kim Jong Il and Muammar Gaddafi, respectively.
Undefeated IBF Super Middleweight World Champion, Romanian boxer Lucian Bute, Jamaican athlete Usain Bolt and Argentine footballer Lionel Messi are among the sports people who have also received nominations. Romanian-born Italian composer and musicologist Roman Vlad and a great spiritual leader of the Romanian Orthodox Church, father confessor Iustin Parvu have also been nominated.
But "The Personality of the Year 2011 on RRI" comes from a different area. "The Personalities of the Year 2011" are all those people who, by their mass protests managed to rock the undemocratic and authoritarian regimes in their countries, in Northern Africa and the Middle East. They brought about what has later been dubbed the "Arab Spring", toppling the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and battling the regimes in Yemen and Syria. One of the names who have been mentioned most often by RRI's listeners and Internet users was that of young Tunisian Mohammad Bouazizi, who set himself on fire to protest the regime. He has become a catalyst and a key figure of pro-democratic movements in Middle East countries.
"Protesters undoubtedly played an important role in 2011 and I believe that this year their voice will be heard even louder", RRI's listener Domenico Genovese of Italy explained his nomination.
(Radio Romania International Newsletter No. 35, 1 January 2012)