Amazon has been blasted by Twitter for appearing to sell clothing featuring the pro-Russia “Z” symbol, which has become infamous since the invasion of the Ukraine.
The item is being sold in eight different colours and multiple sizes, with a price range of £11.99 ($A17.98) to £21.99 ($A32.97).
It was first spotted by Twitter users earlier this week, with many expressing dismay for the tech giant providing a platform for merchandise which has since become associated with the Kremlin’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.
2 Questions. WHY are @Amazon selling these and WHO the hell is buying them. #Amazon are just supporting the brutal slaughter of Ukrainians and the occupation by Russia of Ukraine by peddling this stuff. Anyone agree or am I just b being a bit sensitive? pic.twitter.com/B4LOELQfho
— Olly Rawding (@ollyrawding) March 8, 2022
“Saw a post saying you can get Russian ‘Z’ branded clothes on @amazon @AmazonUK Didn’t believe it, but turns out you can. Disgusting. Take them down Amazon FFS.” Wrote one Twitter user.
“You’re selling shirts with the branding of the occupation,” wrote another user in response to a public release by Amazon outlining its support for Ukraine.
“There seems a contradiction. Plse can you confirm if Amazon is STILL selling “Z” military shirts in Russia today as reported in the Times? If so how does this square with your stance above,” tweeted a different user in response to the same post.
While Amazon often sells directly to online customers, it is also a platform for other private businesses to advertise and sell their products.
But what exactly does this “Z” symbol mean, and why has it become almost synonymous with Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine?
According to the Evening Standard, the Z symbol – a letter which does not appear in the Russian Cyrillic alphabet – is currently being used as an identifier for Russian tanks.
Galina Starovoitova Fellow at The Wilson Centre, Kamil Galeev, further explained the Z on Twitter as meaning, “”Za pobedy” (for victory)” or “”Zapad” (West).”
“This symbol invented just a few days ago became a symbol of new Russian ideology and national identity,” he added.
"Z" is a letter that Russian Military are putting on their vehicles departing to Ukraine. Some interpret "Z" as "Za pobedy" (for victory). Others – as "Zapad" (West). Anyway, this symbol invented just a few days ago became a symbol of new Russian ideology and national identity pic.twitter.com/iWuBPhhdEb
— Kamil Galeev (@kamilkazani) March 6, 2022
Since The Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, the symbol has been seen spray-painted, flown, and proudly heralded across Russia, including on bus stops, cars, taxis and billboards.
Even prominent Russian athletes have used the symbol to show their support for Putin, with gymnast, Ivan Kuliak, yesterday proudly wearing the symbol on his chest as he stood on the medal podium at the gymnastics World Cup in Doha.
Kuliak took bronze, while the gold was claimed by Ukranian athlete, Illia Kovtun.
Regardless of how the “Z” symbol has been interpreted, Amazon has been quick to pull the “disgusting” t-shirts from their website.
An Amazon spokesperson responded to the criticism, saying, “The products in question are no longer available for sale in our store and those that remain are in the process of being removed.”
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