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Poland to ban “Z” symbol in support of Russian invasion

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Warsaw, Poland – Polish lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a string of measures and new sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Approved on Thursday evening by a large majority of 445 MPs in the 460-seat Sejm, the legislation includes a ban on the import of coal from Russia and the freezing of Russian-linked assets.

A separate bill that would allow Polish authorities to not only freeze but also seize Russian assets has also been submitted to Parliament.

In addition to these sanctions, Poland has also prohibited the use and propagation of symbols supporting Moscow’s invasion of its neighbour, including the notorious “Z” letter.

The text still needs to be approved by the Senate and signed into law by President Andrzej Duda.

Late last month, Latvia had already voted to ban the public display of the “Z” symbol, in response to the request of the Ukrainian government who appealed to European and Western partners to outlaw it.

The German states of Berlin, Bavaria and Lower Saxony also banned the symbol, with indications the prohibition could be introduced nationwide.

The use of the letter “Z” on Russian tanks or military vehicles, first spotted days before the start of the invasion among troops amassed near Ukraine’s border, have led to widespread speculation and theories.

Military analysts have claimed that the letter could refer to “Zapad” (“West”), “Za pobedu” (“for victory”) or even for “Zelensky”, the Ukrainian president and declared “target number one” of the Kremlin.

Others argue that it may simply be a visual cue to distinguish Russian military vehicles from Ukrainian ones and avoid friendly fire.

While its origins and exact meaning remain debated, the “Z” letter grew to become one of the main symbols to express support for the war against Ukraine.

“This symbol invented just a few days ago became a symbol of new Russian ideology and national identity,” explained Russia analyst Kamil Galeev in early March.

From Russian schoolchildren arranged in a Z formation to spray-painted murals, from sports athletes to social media users posting pictures with the letter on their outfit, “Z” has become a rallying cry for people supporting the Kremlin’s invasion, both in Russia and abroad.