Since Putin's latest invasion of Ukraine began, the Russians have begun using the letter Z as a military symbol. Nominally, the Russians have claimed it stands for the phrase "for victory" (Russian: за победу, romanized: za pobedu). Others, however, have simply likened it to the Nazi swastika from World War II. It's use in banned in many European countries now, including the Czech Republic, Germany, and Poland, among others.
The Russians have prosecuted about 1000 such cases now, of "desecration of a symbol". And the fines are not cheap, with this one equivalent to just over $600 USD. Repeated infractions get one jail time - or worse.
In Yasnogorsk, Tula Region, a woman tore off the paper letters Z, pasted on the windows of a kindergarten where her child goes. Kindergarten staff caught her on video. They said it was a "desecration of a symbol".
The First Tulsky TV channel reports that the woman was fined 48 thousand rubles under Art. 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation "Public actions aimed at discrediting the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in order to protect the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens, maintain international peace and security."
In total, 1,000 administrative cases have already appeared under the article on “discrediting the armed forces of the Russian Federation ,” OVD-Info calculated. It's been a month and a half since this article appeared.
Human rights activists point out that the range of actions for which one can be prosecuted under this article is very large. For example, several cases were opened for crosses in memory of those who died in Bucha and Mariupol, for “insulting the Z sign” and for reciting anti-war poetry. The largest number of cases were filed for anti-war pickets and posts on social networks.
The distasteful symbol is seen everywhere, and most non-Russian people see it as a symbol of Fascism.
Many Russians have different ideas though. Today is Easter Sunday for the Orthodox church.