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Mystery sign sends message in Russia

Artwork using built-up letters to spell out the word ‘Zamestim’ has appeared in St Petersburg, Russia.

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The signage has since been removed after being vandalised. Image: Will Vernon

The mysterious piece of art appeared in the centre of the Russian city at the end of April, grabbing the attention of social media and the public.

Each letter in the word represents an international brand that has ceased operations in Russia in response to the horrific invasion of Ukraine.

The word that the letters create is ‘Zamestim’, the Russian word for ‘we will replace’ or ‘we will rebuild’.

Brands included are Zara (Z), McDonalds (M), IKEA (I), and printing technology manufacturer, Epson (E). Each company has been used due to its recognisable affiliation with the letter, for example the golden arched M of McDonalds.

While the artwork is largely seen as depicting Russia’s anti-West defiance, it also represents the toll and isolation of the country as many large firms including the likes of Fujifilm, Epson, and HP have stopped shipments and advertising in the country.

Many outlets reported that locals felt a sense of pride and support from the artwork which was believed to be unofficially installed by a pro-kremlin activist. Twitter page ‘Not Just Putin’ claimed to erect the monument and bared responsibility for it as it was “proud of war”.

The eight-meter monument which lights up its letters at night also demonstrates a scepticism to these and many other companies ever being able to trade in Russia again.

The government has told its people it will support new alternatives to the brands with local businesses, but many on social media were sceptical about the country’s capability to do so.

One twitter page commented: “How are they going to replace anything if they had to borrow even the letters of world logos?”

Another added: “I wouldn’t be surprised if even the materials from which this stand was made were bought and made in Europe or China.”

Eventually the artwork was attacked by four youngsters who clearly took issue with the installation and its message, with a video showing one man kicking the S of the sculpture. After coming in contact with drunk passers-by the monument did not survive and was replaced.

If you have any news, email david@linkpublishing.co.uk or join in with the conversation on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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