Putin tops AFP’s choice of 2014’s most influential figures

Russian President Vladimir Putin leads an AFP list of the most influential people of 2014, a year marked by seismic conflicts in Europe and the Middle East and scarred by episodes of extreme brutality.

The leader of the Islamic State group Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the Nigerian schoolgirls from Chibok kidnapped by Boko Haram also feature prominently among the key personalities, reflecting the rise of militant groups with agendas even more radical than Al-Qaeda.

The extraordinary dignity showed in the face of deep suffering by the parents of murdered American journalist James Foley was also recognised in the list, which was compiled by senior editors after a consultation with more than 370 AFP journalists around the world.

Diane and John Foley never ceased campaigning for their son, an AFP contributor who was the first Western hostage to be executed by the Islamic State group. The horrific video of the killing was posted online and contributed to the outrage that brought the US military into the Iraq and Syria conflicts.

AFP last year published a list of the most influential people of 2013 led by Edward Snowden, who revealed the extent of US intelligence surveillance, Iranian President Hassan Rohani and Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, laureate of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

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