Vandal paints pro-Russian ‘Z’ near Prague’s Charles Bridge

If caught, the vandal could be charged with showing support for crimes against humanity.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 25.04.2022 09:13:00 (updated on 25.04.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

A vandal painted the letter “Z,” the symbol of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, near Charles Bridge in Prague. Police are investigating the incident. The letter was on the embankment on the Malá Strana side and visible when looking from the bridge toward Prague Castle. CNN Prima News first reported the incident.

The same symbol also appeared this week on the door of the St. Lawrence Church in Petřín Hill, near the Petřín Lookout Tower.

The letter, which does not appear in the Russian alphabet, first started showing up on Russian tanks and other heavy equipment as it was massing at the Ukrainian border before the invasion, which started on Feb. 24. The exact meaning is unclear, but some people speculate it stands for “Zapad,” which means west in Russian. The letter has been adopted as a symbol by supporters of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Police spokesman Jan Rybanský said the matter is being taken seriously.

"The police documented the case on the spot. It turned out that the letter is sprayed with paint. At the moment, we will find out when the case took place and who committed it,” Rybanský.

A similar incident at the church on Petřín Hill was publicized by the local priest. He posted a message on Twitter that made reference to the catchphrase from the start of the conflict, when Ukrainian soldiers told a Russian warship to go f* itself.

“A Kremlin stooge sprayed Z on the church – a symbol of the Russian attack on Ukraine. I would like to call on the geopolitically conscious artist in question to follow the Russian warship,” priest Petr Jan Vinš tweeted.

The perpetrators each face up to one year in prison for causing damage to another person’s property. If they are convicted of showing support for the Russian invasion as well, the penalties could be much higher.

The Czech Republic's chief public prosecutor Igor Stříž at the start of the conflict warned that expressing support for Russia's invasion in public can be considered a criminal offense. Under Czech law, expressing support for crimes against humanity or genocide is punishable by up to three years in jail. The law also covers the public display of symbols related to genocide.

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