PPolice and prosecutors in several states have reportedly launched more than 140 investigations into support for Russia’s war of aggression. The majority of cases involve the use of the “Z” symbol, which the Russian army in Ukraine uses to mark its tanks and vehicles, among other things, the newspapers of the editorial network Germany reported.
Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, at least 19 violations of Section 140 of the Criminal Code, which criminalizes rewarding and condoning crimes, have been recorded in Saxony-Anhalt alone. According to the state interior ministry, 17 of these cases involved the use of the “Z” symbol.
“Advocating or Condoning Aggressive War”
In several federal states, the use of the symbol is seen as illegal support for the Russian war of aggression, which violates international law. “Showing this symbol in public in connection with the Russian war of aggression leads to the initiation of an investigation if, based on the overall context, approval or approval of the Russian war of aggression is to be expressed,” said a spokeswoman for the Ministry of the Interior in Magdeburg.
In Hamburg, too, at least 17 proceedings have already been initiated for the approval of aggressive war, 16 of which also concerned the use of the “Z” symbol.
In North Rhine-Westphalia, the state interior ministry is aware of 37 investigations. “Twenty-two of these investigations contained the ‘Z symbol’ as a sign of solidarity with the Russian military commanders,” a ministry spokeswoman told RND. In addition, since the beginning of the war, more than 100 cases of property damage related to the war have been identified in North Rhine-Westphalia. The “Z” also played a role in a number of cases, the spokeswoman explained.
Investigations into the support of the Russian war of aggression are not recorded separately by the authorities in all federal states. The actual number of registered crimes related to the war is therefore likely to be much higher.
For example, the Bavarian Ministry of Justice has no data on the number of these investigations. Bavaria’s Justice Minister Georg Eisenreich (CSU), however, emphasized that the Bavarian public prosecutor’s offices consistently took action against people who publicly approved the war of aggression that violated international law. “Freedom of expression is a great asset of our constitution. Everyone is allowed to express their opinion in Germany. But freedom of expression ends where criminal law begins,” said Eisenreich. The minister declared: “We do not accept international crimes being condoned.”