VILNIUS – Proposal to ban the Z-letter symbol, which has become the symbol of Russia's war in Ukraine, as well as the St George's Ribbon, were put before the Seimas of Lithuania on Thursday.
"We have to realize that we are living on the brink of a conventional war too. Information warfare has been going on in full force for a long time now, and we cannot afford to take soft war measures, propaganda and various related symbols lightly," says Monika Osmianskiene, representing the Freedom Party, part of the ruling block in Lithuania, who presented one of the proposals.
Representing the ruling conervative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, MP Paule Kuzmickiene, who presented another draft, said her draft used the broader term "authoritarian regimes" in order to include more symbols.
MPs are set to vote earlier in the day whether to give these proposals their initial backing.
Under the drafted amendments, the aforementioned symbols would be banned during public events and meetings, and those using them would face fines.
The MPs are proposing updating the existing Law on Associations to state that during an assembly or an individual action, the "distribution, use (...) or other display of the two-color black and orange St George's Ribbon, the Z-letter symbol of the military forces of the Russian Federation, flags, signs based on these symbols, or confusingly similar signs" would be prohibited.
They are also proposing introducing fines ranging from 300 and 500 for non-compliance with this provision.
Currently, the Law on Associations prohibits the display of flags, coats of arms, uniforms, symbols of Nazi or communist organizations, or the performance of the national anthems of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union or the Soviet Lithuania.
Kuzmickiene is proposing amending the Code of Administrative Offences to impose fines not only for distributing and displaying symbols of the Nazi and Communist regimes, but also those of other authoritarian regimes (the two-colored black and orange St George's Ribbon, the letters "Z" and/or "V").
Under the bill, non-compliance would be punishable by a fine ranging from 300 to 700 euros for natural persons, and up to 1,200 euros for legal entities.
St George's Ribbon was one of the insignia of soldiers in Tsarist Russia, but became unwanted after the Bolsheviks came to power. The ribbons were revived during WWII with the re-establishment of the so-called guard units, which allowed distinguished soldiers to wear Georgian medals. The symbol was pushed to the sidelines during the Soviet era, and in 2005, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany, it was re-introduced nationwide in Russia.
The Z symbol has emerged more recently with Russia's military invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian Defense Ministry explained in early March that the letter "Z" on military equipment stands for "Za pobedu" ("For victory"), while the "V" symbols stands for "Sila v Pravde" ("Strength is in the truth") and "Zadacha budet vypolnena" ("The task will be completed").