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A "Z" symbol painted on a destroyed Russian anti-aircraft system, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the village of Husarivka, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, April 14 2022. Picture: ALKIS KONSTANTINIDIS/REUTERS
A "Z" symbol painted on a destroyed Russian anti-aircraft system, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the village of Husarivka, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, April 14 2022. Picture: ALKIS KONSTANTINIDIS/REUTERS

Vilnius — Lithuania’s parliament on Tuesday voted to ban public displays of the letter “Z”, the black and orange ribbon of St George, and other symbols seen as expressing support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian military vehicles in Ukraine are prominently marked with the Latin letter “Z”, which is not found in the Cyrillic alphabet used for writing Russian, and it has started appearing on social media and on clothing elsewhere in support of the war.

Meanwhile, the ribbon of St George, first introduced as an honour by Russian Czar Catherine the Great, has gained significance in the Russian-speaking world since separatists in eastern Ukraine adopted it as a symbol of their support for Russia in 2014.

To an earlier ban on public displays of Soviet and Nazi symbols, parliament added a provision for “the symbols of totalitarian or authoritarian regimes used in the past or currently use to promote military aggression, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed or perpetrated by them”.

Legislators also approved fines for breaching the ban being be raised to €900 for people and up to €1,500 for companies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his troops into Ukraine on what he calls a “special military operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” Ukraine. The invaded country and the West say Putin launched an unprovoked war of aggression.

The Lithuanian decision comes after similar bans in Latvia and Moldova. Germany was also considering such a ban.

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba in March called for a universal ban of the political use of the letter “Z”, saying it signified “Russian war crimes, bombed-out cities, thousands of murdered Ukrainians”.

Reuters

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