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MOSCOW: Since Russia began intervening in Ukraine, the letter “Z” inscribed on Moscow tanks has appeared in Russian public spaces: on cars, on athletes’ torsos, even on women’s nail polish.

If there are multiple theories about its meaning, one thing is certain: it is a symbol of support for the Russian army, and its presence reflects a passion for or against it.

The “Z” is a Latin, not Cyrillic, letter that originally appeared as paint on Russian armor going to or entering Ukraine, probably to distinguish them from similar Ukrainian equipment and to avoid friendly fire.

But this sign of recognition quickly became a symbol, spreading on cars on the streets of Moscow, on clothes or on Russian profiles on social networks. Authorities seem to want to encourage this phenomenon.

On its Instagram and Telegram pages, the Russian Ministry of Defense rejected the letter in several messages: “Za Pobedu” (“for victory”), “Za Mir” (“for peace”), “Za pravdu” (” For the truth”)”), “Za Rossiïou” (“for Russia”).

Local media also released a photo from the sky of about 60 sick children, their families and caregivers forming a “Z” in the snowy courtyard of a hospice in Kazan, Tatarstan. ” font.

A few days later, Russian gymnast Ivan Kulyak, 20, stepped onto the third step of the gymnastics World Cup podium in Doha, Qatar, with a “Z” on his chest. Next, in the first step, the Ukrainian athlete.

The International Gymnastics Federation responded by calling for “disciplinary action for Kulyak’s appalling behaviour”.

The young athlete declared to the Russian media that if I had to do it again, “I would do the same thing”: “I saw our soldiers wearing it and I looked at the meaning of the symbol. (…. ..) I want to make my stand. As an athlete, I will always fight for victory and for peace”.

flash mob

There is also a very prosaic possibility in the theory about the meaning of “Z” that it is the first letter of the word “zapad”, which means “west” in Russian, referring to the armed forces in the western region. From nation.

Finally, some also pointed out that this is the first letter of the name of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Either way, everyone from politicians to celebrities to certain influencers wants to show off their “Z,” which has become a symbol of allegiance to the Kremlin.

Russian media police Roskomnadzor therefore capitalized his name with a “Z” on Telegram.

In many parts of Russia, including remote areas, pop-ups and other demonstrations of support have multiplied under the slogan “We don’t give up ours”, with women’s choirs singing “Z” on their chests and taxis emblazoned with “Z” lettering. Their windows or cars are parked in a “Z” shape.

A resident of the pro-Russian separatist city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine also posted a photo on Instagram of her nails painted black with a white “Z”.

In Barnaul (south), a giant ‘Z’ unfolds across the snow, in the orange and brown St. George’s Ribbon, symbolizing the valour of the military.

Hardworking minds have also sniffed the right vein, with ‘Z’ branded T-shirts now being sold online.

In the camp against military intervention, the symbols are less visible in public spaces, even though small demonstrations are held every day despite the ban.

Peace slogans are sometimes painted on the walls of Moscow. But they were quickly erased.

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