Two letters could cost Irina Shayk her career. The Russian supermodel captioned a salad photo on Instagram with a double Z – the symbol of Putin’s war in Ukraine.

Russian supermodel Irina Shayk is suspected of supporting Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. The reason: a photo of her potato salad. More precisely, the caption she chose for the picture. “Russianzz on Wednaday,” Shayk wrote on Instagram. “Russians on a Wednesday,” it was supposed to mean, in reference to their compatriots’ pronounced love of potato salad, which is called “Olivier” in Russia.

The problem isn’t the misspelled word for Wednesday, but the spelling that Shayk chose for the word Russians. Instead of the correct letter “s” she used a double Z.

Even if the Kremlin continues to ban the word war in Russia, it has long since had its own symbol: the Latin letter Z. It is at the center of the Kremlin’s propaganda campaign, which is intended to win over the people for the so-called “special operation” in Ukraine. The letter appears everywhere. As a sticker on car windows, as a print on T-shirts of Kremlin propagandists, in the colors of the Saint George ribbon on posters in Russian inner cities. Company logos, city names, slogans – where the Cyrillic letter З normally has its place, the Latin Z now appears.

The pioneer in this exchange discipline is the Russian Ministry of Defense. The agency floods the public with countless pseudo-patriotic slogans and motives. Sergej Shoigu’s ministry unscrupulously uses images from the Second World War. “For victory,” with these words on their lips, the Soviet soldiers marched into their desperate struggle against Nazi Germany. You can read more about the phenomenon here: The Z campaign – how a letter became a symbol of Putin’s war in Ukraine

Das Dilemma von Irina Shayk

So now Shayk joined the discipline of letter swapping. Since the Z symbol expresses support for Putin’s war, the model is now also suspect. After initial criticism, she removed the post, but as is well known, the Internet never forgets. In an Instagram story, she tried to defend herself: “Sometimes a salad is just a salad. I promise no coded messages or political comments here. Love to everyone.”

At the beginning of the war, Shayk promised to donate to the Red Cross in Ukraine. But it wouldn’t be a star’s first attempt to sit in both chairs, as they like to say in Russia. Shayk is the face of numerous Western brands. The model, whose real last name is Shaykhlislamowa, recently posed in front of the camera for the Ivytopia collection, which was created in collaboration between Beyonce’s fashion brand Ivy Park and sportswear manufacturer Adidas.

If she confesses to being a Putin supporter, she risks losing her jobs in the West. If she takes a stance against the war, she becomes a leper in Russia. A dilemma faced by many Russian celebrities.

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