The letter “Z” has emerged as a prominent propaganda symbol during Russia’s attack on Ukrainecompare it to the swastika worn by Nazi soldiers during the Second World War.
Since the start of the Russian invasion, letters – which do not exist in the Russian alphabet – have been inexplicably drawn on the backs of tanks and other vehicles.
In the more than two weeks since, supporters of the invasion have used the letter “Z” as their symbol of support on their sleeves.
According to Kamil Galeev, a member of Galina Starovoitova at the Woodrow Wilson Center, the origins of the letter’s connection to the war are murky, who compiled photos of the icon on Twitter from before the invasion. begin.
“Some interpret ‘Z’ as ‘Za pobedy’ (meaning victory). Others – like ‘Zapad’ (Western),” explained Mr. Galeev.
“Anyway, this symbol invented just a few days ago has become a symbol of Russia’s new ideology and national identity.”
Experts initially speculated that the marking indicated where a military unit was headed prior to deployment as a means of distinguishing and reducing the risk of allied fire.
“It is important to be able to distinguish any striking forces, especially from the air, where Russian forces will have full control,” a source in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv told the newspaper. The Sun.
“Ukrainians have very similar tanks and vehicles and will want to reduce the risk of friendly fire.”
Michael Clarke, former director of defense research at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), told Sky News that the symbols are likely connected to the geographic location where the units will be deployed.
“Often these symbols will be location-based – they’ll communicate where a unit is headed. If they’re just to mark the vehicle as Russian, you can simply use that,” Mr. Clarke said. an icon”.
But now that the invasion is going well, the “Z” has taken on a new meaning, Galeev said.
“Simply put, it will become total fascism,” he wrote in a Twitter thread on Sunday.
“The authorities have launched a propaganda campaign to get people’s support for their invasion of Ukraine and they are getting a lot of it.”
The subject includes several photographs of civilians and marked cars.
“Putin has decided to start this war. But he has the broad support of the Russian people,” he wrote. “No one is forcing them to participate in these shows, they can completely ignore it. But they cheer. They cheer, because they feel good, they feel proud. Russia is great again.”
Merchandise with the letter “Z” is being sold online by Russia Today, with proceeds going to a charity that supports “children of war”. Amazon also appears to be selling similar items, according to The Times.
Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak used the emblem to show his support for the invasion, as he wore it while accepting a bronze medal at the Gymnastics World Cup event was in Doha last weekend.
The stunt was even more jarring when Kuliak stood next to Ukraine’s Kovtun Illia, who brought home the gold.
The International Gymnastics Federation said it had opened disciplinary proceedings against Kuliak.
And in the Russian city of Kazan, children at a hospice were apparently forced to stand outside in the snow forming a “Z” to show their support.
According to reports, a propaganda stunt filmed by drone cameras was organized by Vladimir Vavilov, the president of a cancer charity who runs the hospice.
Mr Vavilov said 60 participants – including patients and staff – held hands with one hand and leaflets with the flags of Russia, the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and the Republic of Tatarstan belonging to Russia.
Several politicians have also worn clothes and badges with insignia, including Mikhail Delyagin and Maria Butina.
Ms Butina, who was convicted in the US for acting as a foreign spy in 2018, posted a photo of herself and her colleagues in a “Z” t-shirt with the caption: “Military support team and our president! Let’s get to work guys! ”
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/explainer-whats-the-meaning-behind-russian-propaganda-symbol-z-41439360.html Explainer: What is the meaning behind the Russian propaganda symbol ‘Z’?