Though the letter Z does not exist in the Russian Cyrillic alphabet, it has nonetheless become synonymous with leader Vladimir Putin’s unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine ever since the letter was seen emblazoned on the invading forces’ vehicles.
But why the letters ‘Z’?
The Kremlin has claimed the letter stands for the phrase ‘za pobedu’ (for victory), while the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine says it identifies units from Russia’s Eastern Military District, and when seen inside a square — Russian forces from Crimea.
As part of Putin’s programmed nationalistic surge, Putin supporters and hacks have taken to wearing Z badges, and Russian youngsters have released videos of themselves in Z‑branded T-shirts, screaming: ‘For Russia! For Putin!’
But it doesn’t end there. There are also pretty Russian women dressed in nurse uniforms dancing the ‘Z.’
Russia is overflowing with “Z-propaganda”.
This is how Russians have their brains marinated by state propaganda justifying their war of aggression day after day.
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) April 19, 2022
Still, the brainwashing wasn’t complete until toy replicas of Russian military vehicles with the ‘Z’ logo on them went on sale for Russia’s youngest children.
Provate a indovinare cosa ha in mente #Putin per i bambini russi:
vuole che diventino artisti, giornalisti, scienziati oppure li vuole militari, nazionalisti e mercenari? pic.twitter.com/I4EsP32ltD
— #POLiticamenteScorretto🎹 (@PolScorr) May 1, 2022
According to the Daily Mail:
The online EONK store, headquartered in Moscow, is selling a range of the small plastic toys which includes military trucks, multiple rocket launcher systems, fuel tankers, missile launchers and personnel carriers.
Prices range from 602 – 817 rubles, equivalent to roughly £6.12 – £9.25.
Their sale comes as part of a nationwide campaign to drum up support for Russia’s war effort among young people, which has seen ailing children dragged out of hospital to stand in the shape of a Z and young gymnasts sporting the symbol on their singlets.
First seen on tanks and armoured vehicles on the battlefield, the letter Z has since been adopted for propaganda purposes by Putin’s regime and is now seemingly ubiquitous in Russian media as well as on the front lines.
The appearance of the Z-marked toys did prompt some interesting reactions, especially on Twitter. One, in particular, I found amusing. It apparently ‘fixed’ the error in the original toys:
Fixed it. pic.twitter.com/g0blTel60g
— RBEL (@rbelmedia) May 2, 2022