Germany Warns Display of Z to Back Russian Special Op in Ukraine May Be ‘Liable to Prosecution’

© REUTERS / MAXIM SHEMETOVA man walks past a souvenir shop with t-shirts with symbol "Z" on display, in central Moscow, Russia March 23, 2022
A man walks past a souvenir shop with t-shirts with symbol Z on display, in central Moscow, Russia March 23, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.03.2022
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Earlier in March, Russia’s Defence Ministry explained that the letter “Z” inscribed on Russian military hardware involved in Moscow’s ongoing special operation in Ukraine means “for victory”.
The German Interior Ministry warned on Monday that individuals who display the letter "Z" in the country in a show of support for Russia's ongoing special military operation in Ukraine could be brought to justice.

An unnamed ministry spokesperson was cited by Reuters as saying that "The letter Z as such is of course not forbidden, but its use may in individual cases constitute an endorsement of the Russian war of aggression”, referring to Moscow’s special operation in Ukraine.

The spokesperson cautioned that “whoever publicly approves of this war of aggression can also make himself liable to prosecution”.
They also pledged that the federal security authorities would keep a watchful eye “on this”, and that “in this respect we [the Interior Ministry] 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 letters “Z” and “V” inscribed on Russian military equipment in Ukraine prompted wide public guesswork until Russia’s Defence Ministry explained earlier this month that Z is "for victory", while V stands for "strength in truth" and "the task will be completed".

Russia's Special Op in Ukraine

The special operation to demilitarise and "de-Nazify" Ukraine was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin on 24 February, in the wake of a request by the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics for help following intensifying attacks by the Ukrainian Army. Putin emphasised that Russia is not seeking to occupy Ukraine.
The Russian Defence Ministry, in turn, underlined that the country’s armed forces are only targeting Ukraine's military infrastructure with high-precision weapons and that Ukrainian civilians are not in danger. The US and its Western allies were quick to brand the operation “an invasion”, slapping a spate of “severe” sanctions on Russia.
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