A Russian man was detained after trying to knock down a monument of the letter “Z” — a symbol of support for Russia’s military operation in Ukraine — in a city near Moscow, local police reported Tuesday.
The two-meter-tall, illuminated “Z” was installed in Kostroma, a city 500 kilometers southeast of Moscow, on March 18. Beside the monument stands an orange-and-black flag, a traditional symbol of the Soviet victory in World War II. The “Z” is reportedly guarded with surveillance cameras and 24-hour private security.
An unnamed 51-year-old man attacked the monument on the night of April 4, allegedly under the influence of alcohol, Kostroma region police said.
Footage published in the “Kostroma as it is” VKontakte group shows a man slamming into the “Z” several times until the giant letter bends over. Two guards can be seen approaching the man, but neither of them move to stop him.
Police later detained the man, identifying him as a “Moscow resident” and accused him of acting “out of hooligan motives,” the regional Interior Ministry said.
The Latin letter “Z” was adopted as a symbol of support for the Russian military soon after Moscow sent its troops into neighboring Ukraine for what the Kremlin calls a “special military operation.”
The letter was first spotted painted on Russian tanks and military vehicles that were stationed near the Ukrainian border in what observers say was likely meant to help Russian soldiers identify their own equipment.
Since then, “Z” has appeared on T-shirts, street banners, public transport and even kindergarden windows in an effort to ramp up domestic support for the war.