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Germany: Man fined €4,000 for hanging Russian Z sign on car

October 25, 2022

A court in Hamburg fined a man €4,000 euros for displaying the "Z" symbol in the rear window of his car. The sign is used by Russian propaganda as a sign of support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

A rally in support of Russia in Belgrade, Serbia
A woman glues a letter Z to her car during a rally in support of Russia in Belgrade, SerbiaImage: Darko Vojinovic/AP/picture alliance

A 62-year-old man was fined €4,000 ($3,985) by a court in Hamburg on Tuesday for displaying the Russian propaganda symbol "Z".

According to the indictment, in March, about a month after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the man attached a white A4 sheet of paper with a blue "Z" painted on it to the rear window of his car and drove through Hamburg with it.

The prosecutor found that in this way, the man wanted to express his support for the Russian war of aggression.

The court imposed a fine of 80 daily rates of €50. Originally, without a public hearing, only a penalty of 60 daily rates was imposed. But because the man appealed, there was a public trial. The verdict is not yet legally binding as it is subject to appeal.

Germany bans letter 'Z' to support invasion

What is the meaning of "Z"?

At the beginning of the Russian invasion, the "Z" symbol was seen on Russian tanks and other military vehicles in Ukraine. In Russia, however, it was quickly adopted as a propaganda sign of support for aggressive war. It was often used on clothing or on billboards.

In Germany, the use of this symbol in a corresponding context is punishable because it represents the approval of a war of aggression that violates international law.

This is based on a section of the Criminal Code that prohibits the dissemination of expressions of sympathy for crimes, provided this is done in a way likely to disturb the "public peace."

dh/aw (AFP, dpa)