Kamil Galeev Profile picture
May 15 24 tweets 10 min read
Who stands behind Z? (a hypothesis)

Invasion of Ukraine revolutionised the Russian symbolics introducing a new, previously unknown symbol Z. What does Z even mean? Neither Russians, nor foreigners have any idea. It is clearly a forced meme. And I have a guess on who forced it🧵 Image
The choice of Z-letter looks weird. First, it doesn't look like anything Russian or Soviet propaganda used before, making it hard to understand. Second, it's not a Cyrillic, but a foreign looking Latin letter. Which makes its choice as a symbol for the "patriotic" war problematic Image
Unlike most European alphabets which are based on Latin, Russian alphabet evolved from the Greek, which makes it harder for Westerners to understand. Some of the Russian letters look alike their Western analogues - A, E, K, O, C, T. But Russian "З" (ze) looks nothing like "Z" Image
In pretty much all of official propaganda slogans are written with normal Cyrillic letters. And only two letters - В and З are written in Latin as V and Z. Paradoxically, using this Latin letters instead of normal Cyrillic ones manifests loyalism and support of the war in Ukraine Image
Changing Russian З and В letters to Latin Z and V, you shows your loyalism. Other letters don't have to be changed. That's why names of pro-Kremlin Telegram channels and chats now look as a weird mix of Cyrillic and Latin. If it was all in Cyrillic, it would be viewed as neutral Image
From these two pro-war symbols Z and V the former is viewed as more "radical". That's how you track the gradual disillusionment in this war. Take this channel. It used to be called "Империя курильщика|Z". Very radical. Then radical Z changed to a moderate V. Now he deleted even V Image
What does Z mean? Nobody quite understands. Some try to explain it as the first letter of the phrase "За победу" (For victory). But why do you need to replace a normal Russian З to a weird Latin Z which has almost no recognisable allusions to the Russian culture or narrative? Image
So far I haven't found good explanations of what does Z mean. These analyses for example don't look sufficient. One points out to Z being a dynamic letter easy to paint. That's not wrong. Another calls it "dangerous". That's not wrong either. Still, it doesn't explain anything
Russians are just as puzzled by Z as Westerners. Watch Russian state TV trying to Zsplain to its audience. They admit that the choice of Latin letters Z and V is a "secret that preoccupies everyone". They admit it's a problem and try to link them to the ancient Cyrillic letters
We have a problematic symbol. It's completely ununderstandable and previously unknown. It's also Latin which makes it problematic in the context of a patriotic war against the West. And ofc it's forced down everyone's throats by the power of the state. Prisoners have no choice Image
Mortally ill children from a hospice are made to form a Z-letter. When I posted this story the first time many considered it unbelievable, so I'll post a source. Unfortunately you can't judge news from Russia based on your "common sense". That doesn't work kommersant.ru/doc/5249130 Image
Regions and city administrations launched Z-actions all over the country. One typical move was lighting their windows in a way to form a Z-letter. Here you see a regional parliament of Arkhangelsk lighting its windows to form a Z-letter doing it. That's very typical behavior
Governor of the Kemerovo region in Siberia declared that the region which is often called "Кузбасс" will be now styled as "КуZбасс" in all its official materials. Like the Donbass, Kuzbass is a major coal mining region, hence the "bass", short form of bassein Image
Забайкалье region to the east of the Baikal lake now styles itself as Zабайкалье in all official materials. As a general rule, regional elites show extreme compliance with the Z-propaganda, indicating that it is all a coordinated policy, and coordinated by Kremlin Image
So what does Z mean? Nobody quite understands. Westerners don't and honestly speaking Russians don't either. So let's ask another question - where does it come from? Some argue that initially Z,V and others were simply signs on Russian vehicles and then were chosen as symbols Image
Sounds fair. And yet, the question remains - chosen by whom? The argument about Russian "people" or even "journalists" choosing it sounds very weak. No one who ever lived in Russia would believe in such BS. Russia doesn't allow *any* initiative from the bottom Image
Consider a Russian nationalist Kholmogorov. He applied for a permit for a demonstration *in support* of the Russian army in Ukraine. Prosecutors issued him a warning which can very easily turn into a legal prosecution. No initiative from the bottom is allowed in the modern Russia Image
It's insane to assume that in such a centralised, bottom-down country as Russia which extirpates any agency among its subjects, punishing them for every unsolicited activity however loyalist, such a massive campaign as Z could come from the bottom. Nope. It must come from the top Image
Nazism is now strongly associated with esotericism. That's not wrong. And yet, judging from primary sources it wasn't Hitler who pushed this agenda. It was primarily Himmler, who forced mysticism and occultism down everyone's throats with only a grudging agreement of Hitler Image
Let's revise what we know of Z-symbol:

1) it's foreign
2) it's ununderstandable
3) it has no references in the Russian culture and tradition *

* The only exception I'm aware of is Brodsky's poem "A letter to General Z, criticising the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 Image
What can we assume about the person who chose and forced Z as the symbol of invasion?

1) creative and unafraid to experiment with ideology and symbolics
2) markedly high-brow. He probably views himself as a big intellectual
3) has strong propensity to occultism and esotericism Image
Even more importantly, Z-author must be a personal "friend" (= member of the closest circle) of Putin. Since all the authority in Russia is personified in the Tsar, the person who pushed Z must have a direct access to and influence on the Tsar Image
Finally, a quick and most importantly *creative* compliance of regional elites indicates that Z-enforcer is directly involved into the domestic policy-making. Governors don't just comply (that's easy). They also understand what he wants. That's much more difficult to execute Image
We don't have enough evidence to determine who is the author of Z-symbol. But we know just enough to make an educated guess. Most probably, it's the Russian Czar for Domestic Policy, a person who teaches, selects and guides Russian governors. So, Sergey Kirienko. End of 🧵 Image

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More from @kamilkazani

May 16
That's Mikhail Khodaryonok. Out of all people in the room he is the most sober one. Why? Well, may be because he's the only one with the substantial military experience. He's a career officer of the air defence who turned to a pundit career only after retirement (not a thread)
Khodaryonok used to be a senior operative officer in the Russian General Staff. Most Russian pundits judged the military capacity of the Russian army based on official propaganda. Khodaryonok - on his lived experience. Now wonder he is way more pessimistic about the war
Khodaryonok published a pessimistic prognosis about the Russian invasion of Ukraine back on February 3, long before it started. Many pundits expected a quick Russian victory. But the one who actually worked in the Russian General Staff didn't believe in it nvo.ng.ru/realty/2022-02…
Read 12 tweets
May 16
On April 20, Russian MP from the Liberal-Democratic Party Sergey Leonov suggested forcing the Ukrainian POWs to donate their blood.

His exact framing is very interesting:

"There is an offer for the Ukrainian POWs to become the compulsory (в обязательном порядке) blood donours"
It's quite possible that the Liberal Democratic Party MPs are disoriented after the death of their leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky and try to keep relevance with the face of their party gone. Many perceived Zhirinovsky as "clown". And yet, Putin personally attended his funerals Image
Pretty much all of the Russian leadership attended his funerals. Putin, Medvedev, Kirienko, Shoigu, Naryshkin, etc. And yet, did you notice the difference between Putin and others? When Medvedev or Naryshkin approaches the body, the honorary guards are standing near the coffin Image
Read 34 tweets
May 13
How do I make predictions?

It may be worth outlining some general principle I use when making prognoses. Let me show it on example of this thread. On February 27 I predicted Russia gonna lose the war in Ukraine. How did I come up to this conclusion?🧵

Did I have the full information on how the war was going on, on February 27? Not at all. Information I had was often biased, misleading, incomplete or simply wrong. Even in those cases when I was pretty sure about the accuracy of my data, it would still be rife with holes
So how do you make prediction based on incomplete data? You extrapolate. The thing is - data we have is *always* incomplete, even if accurate. Yes, theoretically you could try to collect as much data as possible and try to verify it all. That's possible. But that gonna take years
Read 44 tweets
May 10
Very good question. I would however separate it to two different topics:

1. Why was the Russian army so much overrated?

2. Why was the Ukrainian army so much underrated?

Let's try to briefly discuss both. This is far from a complete answer however🧵

First of all, saying that analysts failed to see the hollowness of the Russian military might be an overgeneralisation. Some noticed some aspects of that hollowness. Here is a brilliant analysis of a Russian westward invasion scenario from the Nov 2021

I like this article very much. In my opinion, it correctly grasped two particular features of the Russian army:

1. It is a land-based army with *lots* of artillery & air defence (=consumes a lot)

2. Its supply lines are fragile, overwhelmingly relying on the railway network Image
Read 69 tweets
May 10
When discussing the future of Russia, many rule out this or that scenario as "impossible". But how do they know what is possible and what is not? The main reason why people are so bad in prognosing the future is that they can't conceive how different is the present from the past
Most people underestimate how different is the present from the (recent) past. And that lack of historical thinking leads to underestimating how different the things will be in the (near) future. That's why people presumptuously rule out possibility of sudden and abrupt changes
Consider the following. A Westerner X who knows post-Soviet space more deeply than many, expected the Russian army to crush Ukrainians in a few day. He wasn't ignorant or ill-informed. He travelled to Russia and Ukraine extensively, visited their military, etc
Read 8 tweets
May 9
Today is May 9. My friend had a walk around Moscow and noticed an interesting pattern. Shop, restaurant, pub owners in Moscow all cover their property with posters and St George ribbons demonstrating their adherence to the state cult of the Great Victory

You know who doesn't? ImageImageImageImage
Halal restaurants. Here you see three Chayhanas run be Central Asian immigrants and predominantly for other Gastarbeiters. They have no May 9 symbolics at all. The fourth is the restaurant of Vaynakh (=Chechen & Ingush) cuisine. It doesn't have any Victory symbolics either ImageImageImageImage
That was all taken by a single person during his walk over Moscow. And it's very telling. It suggests that the Great Victory cult and Russian imperial ideology in general didn't put their roots down the minority populations that seriously
Read 5 tweets

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