Bloomberg, “From anarchist A to pro-war Z, Roman letters serve on front lines”

GENOA, ITALY - JULY 19: Written on a road sign with the anarchist symbol on July 19, 2021 in Genoa, Italy. Activists are commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the Genoa G8, when anti-globalization protesters were violently repressed by the police and a young activist, Carlo Giuliani, was killed. (Photo by Stefano Guidi/Getty Images)

By Ben Schott, March 31, 2022

President Vladimir Putin’s savage war on Ukraine found an unlikely graphical straw man in the shape of the letter Z, which was daubed on Russian tanks and trucks as they shattered Europe’s peace.

Despite various claims that the symbol was an initialism of Za pobedy [for victory], Zapad [west], Zhopa [ass] or even the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, it seems likely the letter is an arbitrary identifier to prevent friendly fire, not least because there’s no Z in Cyrillic.

Given that the Russian ministry of defence Instagram account only began dropping dank Z-themed memes on March 2, a week after the assault began, it instead looks like the Kremlin is rushing to retcon Z into a propaganda campaign as ill-prepared as its military logistics.

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