As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues on, the letter Z has been spotted in both countries.
There are Z stickers on the backs of cars and commercial vehicles in Russia, and one talk show pundit recently appeared wearing a T-shirt with a large white Z on it, the New York Times reported.
The Times went on to say that the letter drew attention quickly in the last few weeks as it was painted a couple of feet high on the sides of the thousands of tanks, armored personnel carriers and other military vehicles mustering along the Russian border with Ukraine.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that the Z symbol came from the preposition “Za,” the first word in the Russian phrase “Za pobedu,” which means “For victory” in English, the Times reported.
The Z has also been called a symbol for Russians who support the invasion of Ukraine, the Times said, with hate being the main message behind the letter.
Ukrainian Journalist and Chief Editor of the Kyiv Independent, Olga Rudenko, voiced her concerns about the invasion symbol on social media, tweeting “I don’t understand why they [Russian military] didn’t go for the full swastika,” insinuating that the letter Z carriers the same weight as the Nazi swastika symbol.
But the letter has also caught attention outside of Ukraine and Russia.
The International Gymnastics Federation has recently criticized the “shocking behavior” of Russian athlete Ivan Kuliak at a gymnastics World Cup event in Doha, Qatar, CNN reported.
It has not been reported what kind of behavior the federation condemned, but according to CNN, the statement was made right after Kuliak was seen wearing a white-colored Z on the chest area of his leotard.
Kuliak was standing next to Ukrainian athlete Illia Kovtun on the podium while bearing the Z symbol, furthering the shock from officials.
In a statement from the International Gymnastics Federation, the federation “confirms that it will ask the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation to open disciplinary proceedings against male artistic gymnast Ivan Kuliak (RUS) following his shocking behavior.”
As the war in Ukraine continues, the United Nations reported that they estimate more than 1.7 million refugees have fled the country since Feb. 24.
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