A 62-year-old Hamburg resident must pay a fine of €4,000 for allegedly publicly endorsing Russia’s war in Ukraine, according to a decision from the Hamburg Regional Court on Tuesday.
The man had drawn a large “Z” on an A4 sheet of paper and hung it in his car, according to a report from NDR.
At the end of February, Russia launched a war in Ukraine, and shortly thereafter, the defendant drove through the city with a large “Z” in the rear window. The “Z” symbol is used by supporters of the Russian armed forces, with many of the Russian vehicles and soldiers featuring “Z” during the initial invasion. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, it is an abbreviation of the Russian word for victory.
However, the 62-year-old denies that the “Z” had anything to do with the war. He said that it is simply the last letter of the alphabet and has no other meaning.
The judge rejected the 62-year-old’s claim, saying that given the context of the invasion and the use of “Z” by the Russian army, it was clear that the defendant was saying he stood behind Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In addition, a police officer testified that when he spoke with the defendant on the phone, the 62-year-old questioned whether the war in Ukraine even exists at all. Now, the 62-year-old will have to pay 80 daily fines of €50.