Latvian parliament bans Russian military symbols 'Z', 'V'

Public events at Soviet war memorials also banned in former Baltic Soviet state.

Latvian parliament bans Russian military symbols 'Z', 'V'

The parliament of Latvia on Thursday banned public display of Russian military symbols formed by the letters Z and V

The signs became symbols of military aggression and war crimes, said a statement by the parliament of the Baltic nation, which shares a 214-kilometer (133-mile) border with Russia.

"In condemning Russia's hostilities in Ukraine, we must take a firm stand that symbols glorifying Russian military aggression, such as the letters 'Z,' 'V' or other symbols used for such purposes, have no place in public events," said Artuss Kaimins, who chairs parliament’s Human Rights and Public Affairs Commission.

The parliament also outlawed public events at all Soviet war memorials.

Under the measure, the holding of events within 200 meters (656 feet) of any monument commemorating the Soviet army or its occupation of Latvia after World War II is prohibited.

Latvia was a Soviet socialist republic from the 1940s until 1991 when it gained independence. It joined the Western military alliance NATO in 2004.

Anyone found guilty under the new law will be fined up to €350 ($387), while organizations can be fined up to €2,900.

Ukraine has repeatedly urged a ban on the political use of the letter Z, which has become a common sight on Russian military vehicles taking part in the attack on Ukraine.

Neither letter exists in the Russian alphabet, and both have been adopted as symbols of support for Russia’s five-week-old war on Ukraine.

The Russian war against Ukraine, which started on Feb. 24, has been met with international outrage, with the European Union, US, and UK, among others, implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow.

At least 1,232 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and 1,935 injured, according to UN estimates, with the true figure feared to be far higher.

More than 4 million Ukrainians have also fled to other countries, with millions more internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency.