The mural of Gadzhievo. First, a U.S attack submarine was painted on the downtown house wall (right photo). Then, it was repainted to a Russian Delta-class sub (center). And then, "Z" was removed from the sub tower (left). Collage by the Barents Observer

The U.S Los Angeles-class sub that was redesigned to a Russian Delta has lost its "Z"

Someone removed the Nazi-inspired war symbol from the mural in Russian Navy town Gadzhievo.
June 29, 2022


The story about the wall painting in Gadzhievo has taken another twist. It all started in May when a U.S submarine was painted on a large house wall in the center of the Russian submarine base. The design was chosen based on an online vote among locals.

But as the mural took shape, reactions mounted among locals, many of them submariners that have been years at sea hunting American subs.

“How disgusting! Why paint an enemy vessel?!” a local man wrote on social media platform VK. “We have our own submarines, and they are by far more beautiful than the ones of our foe,” he added.

“Shame on the town administration!” another reader wrote.

One man even suggested to report the painting to the Prosecutor’s Office and the FSB “before this shameful act is seen by the whole country.”

The American sub in Gadzhievo did not live long. The local town administration soon realized the blunder, and only few days after the mural was completed, the artists were requested to make a significant re-design.

And with a few strokes of a brush, the U.S sub of the Los Angeles-class was redesigned to a Russian Delta. Muralists Natalya Popova and Sergei Beresnev extended the tower and rear part of the vessel. And in addition, they added a “Z”, the symbol of Russia’s war against Ukraine, to the front part of the tower.


The new painting was clearly better liked by the region’s patriotic leadership.

“What a splendid mural has appeared in Gadzhievo,” regional Governor Andrei Chibis exclaimed on social media as soon as the redesign was ready.

But the story did not end with the Russification of the American sub.

Shortly later, yet another change appeared on the wall in Gadzhievo. The “Z” disappeared.

A photo shared on the local town VK page shows the mural without the symbol at the sub tower.

It is not clear who removed the “Z,” but it is unlikely to be part of a civil disobedience act. According to one of the readers of the page, the latest re-painting is probably based on a decision “from above.”

“It is a correct decision, clearly there has come an instruction from higher authorities to start changing the vector of public opinion,” the person argues.

Regional authorities and Governor Andrei Chibis has since Russia’s onslaught on Ukraine been a strong advocate of the “Z.” He has been shown in public numerous times with the war symbol on his chest.

That includes his visit to the Pechenga region following what is believe to have been dramatic war losses for the local 200th Motorized Rifle Brigade.

However, lately Chibis appears to have scaled down his use of the “Z.” He has not been shown on social media with the war symbol since late May.

The letter Z does not exist in the Cyrillic alphabet and many Russians were first baffled by its use in the war offensive. Many believe it bears resemblance with the Nazi swastika.

The Z is painted on the tanks, armored vehicles and other military hardware that now are being used in Russia’s massive war crimes in Ukraine. 




The Barents Observer Newsletter

After confirming you're a real person, you can write your email below and we include you to the subscription list.

Privacy policy