The ‘Z’ symbol: How Russians are showing support for war

When images of Russia invading Ukraine first circulated, people couldn't help but notice a large "Z" seemingly spray-painting across the side of Russian tanks. Since then, the symbol "Z" has only grown larger signifying loyalty to Russia and support for the war in Ukraine and the dangerous movement is being compared to Q-Anon.

Throughout history, letters, numbers, and symbols have been adopted as representations for people to show their alliance to a specific ideology. And like Q, Z is no different.

The Russian Z movement represents the people who are for the invasion of Ukraine. It's unclear where the letter originated from or what exactly it translates to but like Q-Anon, it's rooted in misinformation.

""Z" in Russia equivalent to "Q (Anon)" in the United States," @TonyJCronin said on Twitter.

"Z is to Russian disinformation what Q is to American conspiracy theories", user @kdnerak33kdnerak33 said.

But where QAnon is an unpopular movement based on de-bunked conspiracy theories, Z is backed by government-regulated misinformation and has quickly been pushed on a global scale.

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"Those who wear the Z support the systematic destruction of a nation of 44 million people." Mike Rothschild, a journalist a Q-Anon expert said in an article for Daily Dot. "Those who wear the Q just wanted Hillary Clinton to go to prison. No matter what Q morphed into, it isn’t indiscriminate war."

A Russian supporter paints the letter "Z" during a far-right Serbian protest Getty Images

Rothschild points out that the speed and power at which both groups grew is what separates them at the core of their being. A month ago today, Z was just a rarely-used letter at the end of the alphabet. Today, it represents hundreds of thousands of people supporting the innocent killing of Ukrainians.

"To equate Q and Z is to say that what is happening in Ukraine is akin to the far-right storming the U.S. Capitol. There’s just no equivalence, even if they both use letters, and they both have violent ideation. The scale just isn’t the same." Rothschild wrote.

While most people in the US know the Q-Anon movement is not a positive one to be aligned with, people in Russia seemingly have no idea that Z represents war.

The Russian government has marketed Z as a symbol of peace and unity as they continue to spread the message that Ukraine is a Nazi regime. Yesterday, a political figure in Putin's party told the BBC that Russia was saving Ukrainians from being bombed by their own government- a lie made-up by the Russian government.

Earlier this week, a 20-year-old Russian gymnast bore the letter Z on himself while accepting the bronze in the Gymnasts World Cup, saying he was supporting the liberation of Russian-speaking Ukrainians.

Whether Russians are aware or not, the Z represents violence, power, and corruption on a global scare - something Q-Anon has not surmounted to.

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