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What is the meaning behind the emerging Russian propaganda symbol as ‘the new swastika’?

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The letter “Z” has become a prominent propaganda symbol in Russia’s attack on Ukraine, drawing comparisons to the swastikas worn by Nazi soldiers in World War II.

At the beginning of the invasion of Russia, the letter, which does not exist in the Russian alphabet, was inexplicably painted on the back of its tanks and other vehicles.

In the more than two weeks since then, supporters of the invasion have adopted the “Z” as their logo to wear their support on their sleeves.

The origin of the letter’s connection to the war is murky, according to Kamil Galeev, a Galina Starovoitova fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center, who has been collecting photos of the symbol on Twitter since before the invasion began.

“Some interpret ‘Z’ as ‘Za pobedy’ (for victory). Others, like ‘Zapad’ (West),” explained Mr. Galeev.

“Anyway, this symbol invented just a few days ago became a symbol of the new Russian national ideology and identity.”

Experts initially speculated that the marking indicated where a military unit was headed prior to deployment as a means of distinguishing it and lessening the risk of friendly fire.

“It is vital that any attacking force can be distinguished, particularly from the air, where Russian forces will be in full control,” a source in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev said. Sun.

“The Ukrainians have very similar tanks and vehicles and they will want to reduce the risk of friendly fire.”

Michael Clarke, former director of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) defense think tank, told Sky News the symbols were likely connected to the geographical location where units would be deployed for combat.

“Often these symbols will be location-based: they will communicate where a unit is headed. If they only marked vehicles as Russian, you could only use one symbol,” Clarke said.

A service member of the pro-Russian troops in uniform without insignia walks past a truck bearing the symbol

But now that the invasion is underway, the letter “Z” has taken on a new meaning, according to Galeev.

“Simply put, it’s turning completely fascist,” he wrote in a Twitter thread on Sunday.

“The authorities launched a propaganda campaign to gain popular support for their invasion of Ukraine and they are getting a lot of it.”

The thread included several photos of civilians and cars with the brand.

“Putin made the decision to start this war. But he got broad support from the Russian people,” he wrote. “Nobody is forcing them to participate in these shows of support, they could skip it entirely. But they cheer. They cheer because they feel good, they feel proud. Russia was great again.”

Merchandise with the letter “Z” is being sold online by Russia Today, with the proceeds reportedly going to a charity that supports “war children.” Amazon also appears to be selling similar items, according to The times.

Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak used the symbol to show his support for the invasion on Saturday, when he wore it while accepting a bronze medal at the Gymnastics World Cup event in Doha on Saturday.

The stunt was made even more jarring by the fact that Kuliak was next to Ukraine’s Kovtun Illia, who took home the gold.

The International Gymnastics Federation said it had opened disciplinary proceedings against Kuliak.

Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak stands in a T-shirt displaying the letter Z to receive his bronze medal (Screenshot/Video)

Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak stands in a T-shirt displaying the letter Z to receive his bronze medal (Screenshot/Video)

And in the Russian city of Kazan, children in a hospice were apparently forced to stand outside in the snow lined up in a “Z” formation to show their support.

The propaganda stunt captured on camera by drone was reportedly arranged by Vladimir Vavilov, president of a cancer charity that runs the hospice.

Vavilov said that 60 participants, including patients and staff, had one hand in a fist and leaflets bearing the flags of Russia, the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) and the Russian Republic of Tatarstan at the other.

Children at a hospice center stood in a “Z” formation to show support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine (Kamil Galeev via Twitter)

Children at a hospice form a “Z” to show support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine (Kamil Galeev via Twitter)

Several politicians have also donned clothing and badges bearing the insignia, including Mikhail Delyagin and Maria Butina.

Ms. Butina, who was convicted in the US of acting as a foreign agent in 2018, posted a photo of herself and her colleagues wearing “‘Z” T-shirts with the caption: “The team in support of our military and President! Let’s get to work, guys!”

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, first running our Welcome Refugees campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the development of the Ukrainian conflict crisis, we call on the government to go further and faster to ensure that aid is delivered. To find out more about our Welcome Refugees campaign, Click here. To sign the petition Click here. If you want to donate, please Click here for our GoFundMe page.


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