The Z symbol has become a sign of support for Russia’s war in Ukraine. It is painted on Russian tanks but has recently become more common in Germany.
Some provinces have already banned it and will punish violators, Deutsche Welle reports.
Initially, the Z sign was visible only on Russian military equipment and the uniforms of Russian soldiers, but gradually the last letter of the Latin alphabet became an expression of support for Russian aggression in Ukraine. Recently, this symbol has become more common in Germany, with some federal states such as Bavaria, Lower Saxony, and Berlin already banning its use.
From Russian tanks to German streets
The Z symbol has already been spotted in Germany dozens of times in support of Russia’s aggression. In the state of North Rhine-Westphalia alone, more than 20 cases of the Z symbol painted on walls and cars have been reported.
As the Minister of the Interior of Lower Saxony Boris Pistorius Z points out, it symbolizes the actions of the Russian army contrary to international law. “It is completely incomprehensible to me how this sign can be used in our country as an expression of approval for these crimes.”
The recognizable Z has already been seen at public demonstrations, as is the case in Halle. There, the letter was raised by protesters who, according to local authorities, sympathize with far-right extremists. Charges have also been brought against a family from Lower Saxony who affixed a large Z sign to their car.
In Bremen, a local Ukrainian refugee organization received a threat – an envelope with an unknown substance (later turned out to be harmless), accompanied by a letter with pro-Russian content branded with the symbol Z. In Würzburg, an unknown perpetrator scratched the walls of a local church with large Local authorities are already investigating the incident.
“Putin’s fascism symbol Z should be banned throughout Germany”
North Rhine-Westphalia’s refugee minister, Joachim Stamp, is adamant: “The symbol Z of Putin’s fascism must be banned throughout Germany.” The use of Z will be considered a violation of paragraph 140 of the German Penal Code, which states that any public demonstration of approval for aggressive wars is punishable.
In practice, this means that if someone wears a necklace with the letter Z, because it is the first letter in the name of his grandmother, this of course will not be punishable. But if he wears a poster with a big white Z sign, accompanied by the Russian flag – there will already be a problem with the authorities. The reason is that in the latter case, it can be argued with a high probability that this poster could be seen as an expression of approval for the war, lawyer Ulrich Stein told Legal Tribune Online.
In Latvia, a fine of 350 euros for Z
However, the situation with the Z symbol is still delicate and the charges will be decided individually. Even if a court is reached, the verdict will depend on many factors. Intention, for example, is very important. According to Stein, to condemn someone for using the Z symbol, he must be well aware that the war in which Z has become an emblem violates international law, aimed at violating Ukraine’s sovereignty. But if, for example, the accused firmly believes in Russian propaganda and believes that in Ukraine Russian troops are liberating the Russian minority and saving it from genocide, he could not be convicted of deliberately demonstrating approval for violating international law.
In addition to the several German provinces mentioned, a ban on the use of the Z symbol in public places was imposed in Latvia, where the letter V was also banned, which also marks part of Russia’s military equipment. Anyone who raises Z in Latvia faces a fine of 350 euros. There is a parliamentary debate in Lithuania on banning the symbol, but there is no solution yet.
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