Ukraine war: Terminally ill children in Russia line up outside hospice in shape of 'Z' to show support for invasion

·2 min read

Pictures show how terminally ill children in Russia were encouraged to stand outside in the snow in the shape of a letter "Z" to show support for the country's invasion of Ukraine.

Vladimir Vavilov, chairman of a cancer charity that runs a hospice in the city of Kazan, organised the children and their mothers to line up to produce the letter.

The letter Z has become a propaganda symbol showing support for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his military invasion of Ukraine.

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Patients and team take part in stunt

Mr Vavilov posted the photo and a caption on the hospice website, according to The Daily Telegraph.

"Our patients and entire team took part in it, about 60 people in total," he's quoted as saying.

"People lined up in the form of the letter 'Z'.

"In our left hand we held leaflets with the flags of the LPR, DPR, Russia and Tatarstan and we clenched our right hand into a fist."

LPR and DPR stand for the Luhansk People's Republic and the Donetsk People's Republic - rebel regions of Ukraine that Mr Putin has recognised as independent states.

Mr Vavilov used a drone to photograph the symbol and posted it on the hospice's website.

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Where did the insignia come from?

The Z insignia has become popular in Russia, with many daubing it on their cars or wearing it on their t-shirts.

It came to prominence after it was spotted on Russian military vehicles operating in Ukraine.

A photo appeared in Russian propaganda of the military making the letter out of badges collected from killed Ukrainian soldiers.

How popular has it become?

Influencers have been seen wearing the symbol, and an investigation has been launched by the International Gymnastics Federation after gymnast Ivan Kuliak was seen displaying the symbol.

Merchandise featuring the symbol has also been sold by the Kremlin-backed TV channel Russia today.