The video was filmed by a Ukrainian soldier last April, tell it Moscow Times. An old woman from northeastern Ukraine welcomes a unit to her village, a USSR flag in her hand. “We’ve been expecting you”, she says in her quavering voice, thinking she’s addressing the Russian army. While paying homage to Vladimir Putin, she thanks a man whose uniform bears the colors of Ukraine. This one offers him a bag of provisions and recovers his flag to trample it with his foot. The peasant understands her mistake, dumbfounded. Undaunted, she then returns the basket of groceries and demands to recover the flag. “My parents died for this flag that you are trampling, she insists, give it back to me.”
With her scarf on her head, her long skirt and her big boots, the one the Russians have since nicknamed Babouchka Z (“grandmother” associated with the letter Z symbol of the supporters of the war) has become the incarnation of a Ukrainian people who would only aspire to be liberated by the Russians from the alleged “Nazi regime” in kyiv. The “viral popularity” of this Ukrainian is an unexpected gift for Moscow propaganda, which is struggling to find other similar examples.
The story of this Ukrainian peasant was “quickly picked up by Russian state media who praised the grandmother’s courage and resilience”, notes the English-language daily based in Moscow. This success is largely due to “the nostalgia of the Soviet victory during the Second World War”.
Since April, “Babouchka Z” has been represented on many frescoes all over Russia, even on the island of Sakhalin located in the far east of the country. The occupants of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol have pledged to quickly erect a statue of him, and wooden sculptures have already appeared in Voronezh and Belgorod. In this border town, the scene of major sabotage in recent weeks, the Russian authorities have however taken the decision to remove the statue, reports the Moscow Times. She was the target of “vandalism”.