In February 2022, the enigmatic letter « Z » emerged, as the symbol of the « special military operation » launched by the Russian army in Ukraine. The appearance of this letter is a new example of a phenomenon that has become increasingly important in recent years: the militarization of public space in Russia.

The militarization of public space is a legacy of the Soviet Union. In fact, tanks and other artillery pieces of the Red Army are on display in every town and village in Russia. These military monuments constantly remind new generations of the heavy toll paid by the Soviet Union during the Second World War (“Great Patriotic War”).

In recent years, this exploitation of the memory of war and patriotism has taken on new forms and has become a political issue in Russia. Thus, in 2016, the Russian Ministry of Defense set up an amusement park, the Patriot Park, which aims to « promote an attractive image of the Russian armed forces » and to « develop love and respect for the motherland”. There, an arms fair takes place every year where families and professionals in the sector come to contemplate the latest achievements of the Russian military industry. On the edge of the park, the cathedral of the armed forces – inaugurated in 2020 in honour of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the end of the second world war – is a curious symbiosis between the religious sphere and the military sphere, two essential components of the current Russian power.

Since the launch of the « special military operation », the letter “Z” has been in line with this new military communication, which aims to spread throughout Russian society. This simple letter is a constant reminder of the importance of the military sector in Russian society.