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The ribbon of St. George originated in Tsarist Russia as a decoration for military services, Source: Nick Grabowski, on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Lithuania bans the use of Russian war symbols

Lithuania bans the use of Russian war symbols

Among these is the St. George’s ribbon and the letters Z and V

The Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas) passed a law amendment today, 19 April, which bans the public display of Russian propaganda symbols that have gained widespread prominence as a result of the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Among these are the St. George’s black-and-orange striped ribbon and the letters “Z” and “V”.

The prominent display of such symbols will be subject to a fine of 300-700 euros, and for legal entities, it will reach up to 1,200 euros. Repeated violations will result in a fine of 500-900 euros for individuals or 800-1.500 for entities.

Other symbols of authoritarian regimes have already been banned in Lithuania

The amendment concerns the Law on Administrative Misdemeanors and Assemblies and 124 members of the Seimas voted for them, with only one against and two MPs abstaining.

"Amendments to this law are not only necessary, they are absolutely necessary for our national security if we want to avoid a fate like Ukraine and act proactively with Russian propaganda. The latter is looking for all sorts of ways to blackmail people, change thinking, reality. As we can see, it (reality) has already been changed in the minds of Russian citizens,” stated Monika Ošmianskienė, a member of the Freedom Faction, one of the initiators of the amendments, quoted by LRT.

The Law on Assemblies already prohibits the display of German, USSR or Lithuanian SSR flags, coats of arms, uniforms, symbols of Nazi or communist organizations, and the performance of the anthems of Nazi Germany, the USSR or the Lithuanian SSR.

The St. George's ribbon was one of the tokens of the award for the soldiers of Tsarist Russia, but it became undesirable for the Bolsheviks when they came to power. The ribbons were remembered again during the Second World War, when the distinguished soldiers were allowed to wear them. It was then pushed to the periphery, but it has once again resurged in prominence, this time in connection with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The letters "Z" and "V", which are not part of the Cyrillic script used in Russia, but are part of the Latin script in Lithuania, have also gained negative connotations around the world after the start of the war in Ukraine. The Russian Ministry of Defense explained in early March that the symbol "Z" on the military equipment meant "Za pobedu" ("For Victory") and the symbol "V" should be understood to refer to "Sila V pravde" ("Power is in Truth") and "Zadača budet Vypolnena” (“The task will be completed”).

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