Lithuania Bans Letter Z 

Z zymbol
The "Z" symbol on a Russian anti-aircraft system | Image by Reuters

According to Reuters, Lithuania’s parliament met and voted to ban public displays of the letter Z as it has been used as a pro-Russian symbol. Along with the letter Z, the black and orange ribbon of St. George was also banned. According to Euronews, 124 parliament members voted to enforce the ban, while one voted no and two abstained.

Lawmakers feared that Russian military symbols would be displayed on May 9 and the days surrounding to mark the day Russia defeated Nazi Germany in World War II.

Shortly after the invasion of Ukraine, Russian military vehicles began emblazing the outside of their tanks with a large white letter Z.

The label soon caught on and has since become the symbol used by Russian nationalists who support Putin’s agenda. Supporters began using it on clothing, flags, and social media.

The ribbon of St. George, introduced by Catherine the Great, was adopted by separatists in Ukraine in 2014 who wanted to show support for Russia. Ironically, the color pattern is said to symbolize fire and gunpowder.

Lithuania has an existing ban on symbols utilized by the Soviet Union and Nazi regime. The letter Z joins what Lithuania’s parliament describes as “the symbols of totalitarian or authoritarian regimes used in the past or currently used to promote military aggression, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed or perpetrated by them.”

The country’s lawmakers also agreed to impose fines for those who breach the ban—900 euros for an individual and 1,500 euros for a company.

Lithuania is not the only country to impose such a ban. Latvia and Moldova have also imposed similar prohibitions. Germany could soon be implementing the ban as well.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for a universal ban of the letter Z, declaring it a symbol of the destruction and death that Ukraine has seen at the hands of Russia.

Lithuanian parliament member Monika Ošmianskienė said the new law was “absolutely necessary to ensure Lithuania’s national security.”

“This is an important preventive step because Russian war propaganda is not tiring and is looking for all sorts of ways to distort our people,” she said.

Putin states Russia invaded Ukraine to carry out a “special military operation” meant to demilitarize the country and purge it of “nazis.” However, Ukraine and the west vehemently disagree and categorize Putin’s actions as unprovoked acts of war.

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