German authorities said they were considering whether to prosecute people who used the Z symbol to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The Russian war of aggression on Ukraine is a criminal act, and whoever publicly approves of this war of aggression can also make himself liable to prosecution,” an Interior Ministry spokesperson said.
The announcement from the Interior Ministry came after Bavaria, and Lower Saxony said they too would punish individuals endorsing the Russian war of aggression.
Since the invasion, the Z symbol has become a common sight on Russian military vehicles, displayed on pro-Russia social media accounts, plastered on private cars and trucks, and printed on t-shirts and hoodies.
“The federal security authorities have an eye on this, and in this respect, we welcome the announcement that several federal states will also examine in individual cases whether this could be a criminal act and to take action accordingly,” the spokesperson added.
The Z symbol was written in the Latin alphabet rather than Cyrillic, and experts were not sure of its exact meaning.
“Some think of Z as Za pobedy (for victory) while others think it might be Zapad (West). All the stranger, because the letter Z doesn’t exist in the Russian alphabet,” Dublin City University Professor Donnacha Ó Beacháin said.
Meanwhile, Russia’s defense ministry posted on its official Instagram and Telegram pages that Z stands for “Za Pobedu” (“for victory”), “Za Mir” (“for peace”), “Za pravdu” (“for truth”), and “Za Rossiou” (“for Russia”).
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