May 23, 2022

Alphabet Bans


Alphabet Bans
Russian BM-21 "Grad" artillery, sporting the iconic "Z." Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

In a turn that seems at once bizarre and overdue, the Ukrainian parliament moved Sunday to ratify a bill put forth by President Zelensky to ban Russian symbols used in the invasion of Ukraine; namely, the Latin letters "Z" and "V."

Bill No. 7214 outlaws the use of these two letters, as well as their Cyrillic equivalents, on social media, on clothing, in public, and in advertisements. The bill also denounces Russia as a "terrorist state" and categorizes all Russian information on the course of the war as propaganda.

The "Z" and "V" symbols first appeared on Russian military vehicles in February 2022, as Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. Neither letter is used in either the Russian or Ukrainian Cyrillic alphabet, and their use on tanks, transports, and helicopters has been both pronounced and strange.

Analysts believe that the markings were applied to distinguish Russian from Ukrainian equipment, as both countries use Soviet-era vehicles.

Since the start of the invasion, "Z" and "V" have become symbols of support for Russian actions, and have therefore drawn ire from those sympathetic to Ukraine. Ukraine's move is similar to earlier legislation to outlaw positive uses of Soviet and Nazi imagery.

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