Terminally-ill children at Russian hospice FORCED to stand in snow and form 'Z' to support troops
Children at a hospice were forced to stand outside in the snow in the shape of the letter 'Z' to show support for Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. The astonishing pro-war prank was staged this weekend in Kazan, Tatarstan, by Vladimir Vavilov, the chairman of a cancer charity that runs a hospice for sick children.
After being observed on Russian tanks and military equipment entering Ukraine, the Latin script emblem has become a symbol of the invasion. Russia Today, a Kremlin-funded TV channel, has sold letter 'Z' items, and Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak is being investigated after he used a white injury tape to make a 'Z' letter on his leotard.
Patients held pamphlets with the flags of Russia, the Donetsk People's Region (DPR), the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR), and Russian Republic Tatarstan while standing in the shape of the letter 'Z,' according to Vavilov. "Our patients and entire team took part in it, about 60 people in total," he stated.
A drone was used to photograph the stunt, which was then posted on the hospice's website. The LPR and DPR, both self-proclaimed breakaway states in Ukraine, have been recognized by Putin as separate states. Ukraine considers both the DPR and the LPR to be terrorist organizations because of their Russian allegiance. The republics are located in eastern Ukraine's ancient Donbas area.
In Russia, the letter 'Z' has gained popularity as a pro-war and pro-Putin symbol over the last month. Following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military has employed the letter 'Z' as an identifying mark on their vehicles. Pro-Putin politicians, activists, and influencers have been seen wearing Z-shaped clothing and badges to demonstrate their support for the invasion of Ukraine.
The International Gymnastics Federation will investigate gymnast Ivan Kuliak, 20, for his "shocking behavior" in showing a mark of support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine at a competition. Kuliak came in third place in the parallel bars final at the Apparatus World Cup in Doha over the weekend, wearing the letter 'Z' on the front of his uniform as he stood on the platform next to Ukrainian rival Illia Kovtun, who took the gold.
"The International Gymnastics Federation confirms that it will ask the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation to open disciplinary proceedings against ... Kuliak following his shocking behavior at the Apparatus World Cup," the FIG said in a statement.
Putin's propaganda machine also produced a short pro-Kremlin cartoon explaining why Vladimir Putin attacked Ukraine. Before going on to explain the Donbas War, the three-minute film depicts children donning t-shirts symbolizing Ukraine, Germany, Russia, and the United States.
"Ukraine began to oppress the Russian population so these two oblasts wanted to separate and become a part of Russia - but Ukraine disagreed and began to go to war with those territories," according to the pro-Kremlin propaganda. Putin went to war, according to the report, because "Russia tried to stop the killing of people and resolve the issue peacefully."
"The West doesn't listen because Ukraine is telling everyone that Russia wants to kill people," the cartoon added. One stunned viewer expressed disbelief that the "historically inaccurate" cartoon was being shown to children and lambasted the "Russian narrative".
After Ukraine's pro-Moscow former president Viktor Yanukovych was deposed in the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution, Putin has often accused the country of being taken over by fanatics. Putin repeated his unfounded accusations that Ukraine wanted to kill Russian speakers in the country's east in the weeks leading up to the Russian invasion.
The 'Z' formation stunt comes as the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters its twelfth day, with cities being bombarded again and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowing that "God will not forgive" and that Ukraine "will not forget" the slaughter of civilians by the Russians, saying they will face a "day of judgment."