Irina Shayk posted a curious IG message which could be a pro-Russian code

Irina Shayk is a Russian model who lives in New York. She’s lived in Europe, in LA and New York for many, many years. She gave birth to her daughter Lea in America, making Lea an American citizen by birth, and I wonder if Irina has ever sought American citizenship or even received American citizenship. All that being said, Irina has spoken about going home to Russia to visit friends and family, and she doesn’t talk much about the politics of Russia or America. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many Russians living abroad posted vague messages about “no war” and “peace.” While I would have appreciated more specific statements from Russian celebrities, I also understand that most Russians living abroad still have families back in Russia, families who can be hurt or murdered by Vladimir Putin’s regime. Which means that beyond vague social media posts about “no war,” most Russians are just keeping their mouths shut in general. Not Irina. Irina thought it would be a good idea to post something very curious to her IG Stories, and people are taking it as a pro-Putin statement:

Irina Shayk is seeing backlash after posting an Instagram Story of what appears to be a simple potato salad. However, the model captioned the photo, “Russianzz on Wednaday,” which some social media users have taken as a message of support for the Russian military amid the war with Ukraine.

According to NPR, the origin of the usage of the letter “Z” in the Russian war against Ukraine is still unclear, but the letter has been seen painted on military vehicles and used as a symbol of support for the Russian military. Specifically, the letter has become synonymous with support for Russia during the ongoing conflict with Ukraine both there and back in Russia.

The Russian Defense Ministry issued a statement in March, per Fortune, saying that the “Z” stood for Za pobedu, or “For victory,” however it’s worth noting that the letter “Z” doesn’t appear in the Russian alphabet, making the full story hard to pinpoint.

Shayk’s intentions with her Instagram Story was deleted and eventually reposted with no caption; however, in another Instagram Story posted Friday evening, she appeared to clear up the confusion, writing, “Sometimes a salad is just a salad. I promise, no coded messages or political commentary here. Wishing everyone love.”

In February, the Russian model posted a peace symbol to her Instagram, writing, “No To War.” She also wrote that she’d be donating to UNICEF and the Red Cross in Ukraine.

The Internet appears to be divided on their opinions relating to Shayk’s picture, taking to Twitter to discuss. Ukrainian journalist Maria Romanenko called out the model on Twitter, along with brands who have worked with her, writing, “Irina Shayk—world-famous model from Russia who’s recently worked for @Beyonce, Jean Paul Gaultier, @Burberry, &others—posted a weird cryptic story on Instagram with the word ‘Russianzz’. I really hope these brands reconsider working with her when Russia uses Z to kill Ukrainians.”

[From People]

Having read many of Irina’s interviews over the years, she’s never struck me as a particularly politically active person, or someone who would choose to promote pro-Putin propaganda or anything like that. Her sensibilities are Russian, but her politics are ambivalent Euro-American émigré/model. But I could be wrong! I’m sometimes surprised by just how many Russians are actually, not-so-secretly very pro-Putin and how little it has to do with threats against their families back home. For Shayk in particular, I think this deserves closer inspection. A “promise” that there are no coded messages isn’t really good enough. There’s a healthy debate online about this too. I don’t have an answer. I would appreciate it if Irina made her position a lot clearer. This isn’t random gossip – she posted that sh-t on her public Instagram profile.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Irina’s IG Stories.

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83 Responses to “Irina Shayk posted a curious IG message which could be a pro-Russian code”

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  1. Robyn says:

    She is right, sometimes a salad is just a salad. Urging she explain herself puts her family on both continents in danger and sets a scary precedent for us. Hoping she and her family stays safe.

    • Div says:

      She literally posted a photo of herself reading a book with a giant picture of Putin on the cover not that long ago (before Russia “re-invaded” Ukraine (they invaded Ukraine back in 2014)). So no, it’s doubtful that the salad is just a salad. She did a brief “no war” thing, but it was vague enough not to p*ss anyone off and a lot of Russian celebs abroad did it versus the ones who explicitly spoke out.

      I don’t blame her for not speaking out-she has family in Russia. What I do side-eye is this sh*t-posting photos of Putin, the “zzs”, etc. I can understand if someone is unfamiliar with the situation, they might think it’s a massive overreaction a la the “okay” symbol in the US (as in, most people are unaware that white power creeps tried to co-opt the okay symbol). But Russia uses the Cyrillic alphabet, the roman “Z” is uncommon so people don’t really say “girlz”. The “z” on Russian in particular is what caught people’s eyes. And adding multiple “zzzs” or a “z” is everywhere in Russian media, over Russian billboards, etc. I mean they were literally selling Easter pastries (Orthodox) with icing “Z’s”.

      Anyway, I’m sort of convinced this is why the Bradley/Huma news dropped, as in both camps basically confirmed they were dating. Media often speculates he’s getting back with her, and if she’s a Putin supporter-even if she’s quiet/vague/odd about it-he would want distance from that.

      • Sandra says:

        I thought the relationship roll out was more because Cooper agreed to be Stern’s VP if he runs.

        Huma Abedin is a smart woman. She is intelligent, qualified, experienced in her field, gorgeous, and has already had to weather a scandal that was both political AND tabloid fodder.

        Not to mention she has very solid political connections.

        …and maybe I’m being ridiculous? but after the sad rise of trump I can 100% see Stern convincing himself to do it.

        While initially a joke (or at least not a serious sentiment), it wouldn’t HURT Cooper to suddenly get more seriously involved with politics. After the American Sniper / DNC fall out it seems that going through his romantic partner gives his political involvement more legitimacy.

      • JustBitchy says:

        @Div I owe you one with that info. Merci

    • Andrew's_Nemesis says:

      Nonsense. Why are you giving her the benefit of the doubt? She knew what she was and is doing.

  2. OriginalMich says:

    There is only one reason to attach the letter ‘Z’ to anything ‘Russia’ and it has nothing to do with salad.

    • KLO says:

      There are many children of former russian occupants in my country. THey still believe that my country (Estonia) is rightfully russian territory. They won`t learn our language. When I speak to my neighbours (I live in north-eastern europe, Estonia) they`ll speak english, but not estonian, the country where they were born and where they live. Russians always yell about how everyone is bullying the “russian minority” but they themselves are xenophobic and hateful to the nth degree. Nothing about this business with Irina surprises me. They are brainwashed to follow the czar (currently Putin) anywhere he goes and convinced that they are the most bestest and kindest nation in the world. AND they believe that the situation in Ukraine is exactly how itś supposed to be, and “necessary”.

    • JustBitchy says:

      OM, well said

  3. C-Shell says:

    Yeah, that IG caption seems pretty pointed. Her backpedaling is weak under these circumstances where Ukraine and Ukrainians are being devastated every hour of every day.

  4. Owlsyn says:

    My first thought when reading that is that Z, Zz, Zzzzzz,ZZ or whatnot is used in place of S when you’re trying to be down with the fellow cool kids. 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️

    • GirlOne says:

      Yeah, that’s what I thought.

      Plus, Bradley Cooper is a very political person. Can’t imagine that he would’ve been with a Putin fangirl.
      Having said that, we don’t know why they split up …

    • Anna says:

      Maybe it is/was. But so are many other expressions that people have consciously stopped using because they can be associated with the war. In my job we used to call a back room during audits/inspections a “war room”, but no longer do it because it sounds so insensitive while there is an actual war happening. Irina is not a idiot, and being Russian she should be much more careful and aware.

    • tealily says:

      That was my first thought, but she would clearly know better than that so I’m not sure we should give her the benefit of the doubt on it. It’s pretty suspect.

  5. Zen says:

    She spelt Wednesday wrong. Was that code too?

  6. RD says:

    I believe Irina. she’d never jeopardize her career. she’s too career-focused.

    • Sandra says:

      She is VERY aware of that this kind of “typo” would be meaningful to anyone familIar with the meaning BUT Could also be explained away to American media.

      if she was truly pro peace she would have MUCH more careful about what she posts.

      … Like maybe not posing with a book with Putin on the cover for an officially
      Sponsored photo.

      • KLO says:

        As the finnish say – “a russian will always be a russian, even if you fry it in butter”.

      • JustBitchy says:

        KLO in reply to your Finnish saying. Can’t repeat what my 90 YO mom says is a good Russian. But I think you get my drift.

      • MC2 says:

        @KLO & @JustBitchy once you start delving into violent racism, you should pause & take a hard look at yourself. Let’s keep the focus where it is- one person making a political statement.

    • Christina says:

      I do not believe Irina. I also am not sure if she is pro-Putin. I think that she is sending signals to keep her family from being seen as anti-Putin.

      Russia is going after the public figures and wealthy who are not siding with him openly. I’m not sure if she is pro-Putin, but she IS a public figure with relatives in Russia. It is plausible that she did that to keep her family there safe. It’s complicated. She COULD be pro-Putin, but she can’t share what she believes. It is too dangerous.

      She is damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t. Celebrate him and lose your American-European career, but your family is left alone until the next time Putin feels like killing people. Express support for Ukraine and her family is detained or worse.

      I do not envy the line it seems she is being forced to balance on. A salad is NOT just a salad when you are accustomed to walking on eggshells for your entire life. Horrible mixed metaphor!

  7. Lila says:

    It’s sus, for sure. Even she didn’t offer an actual explanation for it.

    Imagine Irina and Kanye talking politics while they were dating. That must have been wild…

  8. LupeBS says:

    I am not sure whether I believe her or not. That seems like a pretty random mistake to make.

    The only information I have to add is that this salad with potatoes, peas and maybe carrot is commonly called “Russian Salad” in some South American countries – not sure about other places in the world.

    • FHMom says:

      That’s supposed to be ensalada rusa? Isn’t it usually chunkier?

      • KLO says:

        This is a super common “potato salad” in eastern Europe (not only Russia). I´m in Estonia and we basically always eat this at home on birthday parties and such. It`s a super common party food and you can buy it in any grocery store. When I make it at home it looks exactly the same. Fun fact: they ate the same salad in the Black Widow movie when ScarJo went to visit her russian parents. The cultural accuracy made me laugh 🙂

      • LupeBS says:

        I’ve had it both ways, to be sure. My mother-in-law likes it diced pretty small – maybe not quite this small.

  9. Chaine says:

    Not a mistake, nor was the message coded. At this point in Ukraine war we all know exactly what zz means.

    • YVR says:

      From what I’ve been following on Twtter, her use of zz is intentional. She doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt from me.

      Tangentally, Estonia is a super power in helping Ukraine because they know what it’s like to be occupied by Ruzzia (intentional!). Same with Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia. Especially when you calculate their contributions per capita 🙂

    • JJS says:

      This. Anyone who wants to learn more I recommend this as a starting point (Vox’s “How “Z” became Putin’s new propaganda meme”):

  10. Skyblue says:

    Seems pretty deliberate to me. Back in March, I was visiting my brother and his family in Houston and observed/listened to my Russian sister-in-law and her Russian bestie’s snide comments about Russian invasion of Ukraine. While not overtly pro-Putin, they are very pro-Russia. Zero empathy expressed for the Ukrainian people. I think the weight and depth of the history of Russia and its effect on the collective is difficult for those of us born and raised in the US to truly fathom. 🤷‍♀️That aside, I love Russian Salad.

    • WiththeAmerican says:

      I’ve had this same experience with second gen Russian immigrants- absolutely pro Russia and love Putin. Same people love Trump, because he’s so “strong.” Indoctrination is generations deep.

      • HeatherC says:

        I’ve found that a second or third gen Russian immigrants attitudes often are heavily influenced by the circumstances of the immigration.

        I’m third gen on my mother’s side. My great grandfather defected because of Stalin (and he was a chemist so the US had some use for him and helped him defect with his family). My mom (2nd gen) says Trump and Putin remind her of the reason her dad (who was a teenager) was forced to run from his country of origin and seeing it repeated over 2 countries, one her family ran from and the other the country they ran to was heartbreaking.

    • KLO says:

      @Skyblue I agree with every word.

    • JustBitchy says:

      I am a Cold War kid. I so hopes that Russia, its leadership, industry has changed post 1990’s. Sadly it hasn’t. Never trust them. I was taken in by thinking they had moved on from Czar mentality.

  11. WiththeAmerican says:

    No. I don’t believe her for a second. If it were just a salad, she’d have called it a salad. She called it a Russian and added zz –

    Various news reports:
    “conversion of the Z into a de facto symbol of aggression is dispiriting. … There are now Z bumper stickers all over Russia” – this does not suggest accidental.

    “ The letter Z does not exist in the Cyrillic alphabet but has become a ubiquitous logo for Russian support since the invasion started on February”

    “ Since the invasion of Ukraine began, the letter Z was used by Russia as a way to identify its military vehicles inside Ukraine. But the letter has now become a propaganda symbol inside Russia and Ukraine.”

    • Debbie says:

      I’m with you there. All of what you said, plus the fact that she simply deleted her prior slogan/statement with no explanation. Basically, she’s saying “Nothing to see here. Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes.” Well, I’m too familiar with liars to swallow what Iryna’s trying to sell. It’s an underhanded way for her to show support to her home country, Russia, without jeopardizing her career. That way, much like the Proud White Boys*, she can claim plausible deniability. (“I wasn’t flashing the White Power symbol, I was just scratching.”). So, my issue with Iryna is if you want to be political, then be political outright. To do it in an underhand way is cowardly.

      *They used to refer to themselves as “Proud WHITE Boys” and spout their dreadful beliefs but didn’t want to be seen and classified as racist. So now, they just call themselves Proud Boys (same beliefs) and that seems more palatable to people.

      • TwinFalls says:

        Agree. Saying sometimes a salad is just a salad has strong I really don’t care do you vibes.

      • Sudie says:

        @Debbie, you absolutely nailed it. I sincerely hope Bradley Cooper doesn’t wake up one day and find his child living with family in Russia.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      @ WiththeAmerican, yup. Irina is very much supporting her former country’s president but she doesn’t want the backlash for it. If she feels this strongly she is welcome to move back to Russia.

  12. MY3CENTS says:

    Sometimes a fascist is just a fascist.

    • JustBitchy says:

      Sadly that is a yes – but in this case they are Rashits (or with a z for extra tang!)

  13. Gubbinal says:

    The Cyrillic alphabet has a lot of letters which do not exist in the English alphabet. The “z” sound is represented in Russian by a letter that looks like a small “s” and would only be on Russian keyboards. It is a popular letter. A capital “T” in English can look like a big M in Russian. See an H? That’s really an N.
    There are different letters to represent these sounds: “s,” “sh,” and “sch”. A backwards R is a “y” sound. That mandarin shape? I think it is a large D.

    I may be wrong because it’s been 50 years since I took Introductory Russian but in general the “z” sound is used a lot more than our “z” in English.

    • KLO says:

      This has nothing to do with anything.

      • Andrew's_Nemesis says:

        Agreed. The deflection is not working.

      • Gubbinal says:

        I was responding to the assertion above that: “however it’s worth noting that the letter “Z” doesn’t appear in the Russian alphabet, making the full story hard to pinpoint.” Sorry I wasted your time. The letter z appears in the Russian alphabet but it looks like a small 3.

    • KLO says:

      @gubbinal I know what the russian alphabet looks like I studied russian in school 🙂 … I was simply confused on what you were trying to say lol. Sorry for wasting your time as well.

    • WithTheAmerican says:

      It’s in quotes because it came from a news source. I’m going to believe them.

  14. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Intentional. Sorry.

  15. Jaded says:

    It was deliberate. Dumb move Irina, you’re a model, not a provocateur. Get back in your lane and STFU or your career may very well tank and, at the very least, your friends will start dropping you like a hot turd.

  16. Mi says:

    If anyone is interested there are plenty of stories from several years where she uses the Z as in girlzzz, boyzzz, russianzz, etc. And it was never a problem because theres nothing political about. Any fan page of her can show that.

    And I want to remind she has her family in Russia, anything she says againt this war can put her family there in danger not to mention her daughter. She put a peace sign at the beginning of the war and donated to Ukrainian Red Cross but that s how long she can go.

    But maybe its easier to believe the evil russian stereotype ?

    • Jaded says:

      Everyone knows what those ZZs are about and she only donated and put up a peace sign AFTER she was called out for using them. Sorry, not buying it and the *evil Russian stereotype* is not a stereotype, it’s a reality that’s been around for a long time and, like Trump with his MAGAts, Putin has successfully fanned the flames.

      • Mi says:

        She has been using this long before the war, as in 2015, 2016, etc. Are you telling me Irina shayk is the head of russian propaganda?

        And dont need to remind you what stereotypes have lead us…

      • Jaded says:

        Stop exaggerating. I’m doing no such thing as accusing her of being the *head of Russian propaganda*. Using a ZZ deliberately when Russian attackers are painting it all over their tanks, guns and bombs, and using it on everything from uniforms to bumper stickers? She knows exactly what it means. Why are you defending her use of a horrible symbol of oppression that is tantamount to a German swastika?

      • Mi says:

        Im the one exagerating?!

      • JustBitchy says:

        Yes! 🙌 Jaded.

      • YVR says:

        Justbitchy- yes, Finland too! Finland has walked a tightrope with Russia for a long time, especially since the winter war in 1939, when they severely smacked the Russian invaders.

      • YVR says:

        MI – Jaded, Justbitchy, et al are definitely NOT exaggerating. If you’ve read anything beyond western press you would know how powerful the Z symbol is.

      • Mi says:

        If Irina started using the zzz before (at least for 5 years or so) and if according to you it’s a political sign, was it before? Or only now? It doesnt make sense at all and it screams witch hunt to me, but I guess it’s a popular thing on this site.

      • TwinFalls says:

        My great great grandparents fled Finland in 1900 because of the conditions and my great grandmother was born on the boat heading to the US.

  17. Eastern European says:

    I never comment on here, but I had to say this: no, innocent Americans, that absolutely is political. Very blatantly and obviously pro war. She’s a ruscist.

  18. Jaded says:

    And for those of you who think this was an innocent mistake and we’re promoting *evil Russian stereotypes*, I’d suggest you read this great piece by a formerly pro-Russian journalist who had the scales drop from her eyes…

    • Dilettante says:

      Thanks for posting this link, a very insightful and thought-provoking personal account.

  19. Mrs. Smith says:

    If she posted a photo of herself reading a book with a big photo of Putin’s face on it?, then she knows exactly what Z means. Totally intentional and I’m so disappointed in her.

  20. Sumodo1 says:

    My family used to identify as “Russian Jewish.” Now, to avoid negativity, I am identifying more accurately as a Ukrainian and Finnish Jew. I’m virtue-signaling, right? Irina is making her Russian identity crystal clear posting a picture-pretty “Salade Russe” as expats call it now and adding “zz.” Maybe Irina’s bookings have slowed in the West and she’s courting an oligarch.

    • Dashen'ka says:

      Yes this! I now say I am “Jew from Russia”.

      • pottymouth pup says:

        a lot of Jews who identify as “Russian Jews” are actually from families that emigrated from Ukraine or even Poland. Those whose families have roots in Ukraine identified as Russian Jews because Ukraine was part of Russia/USSR when they left so their documents said Russia. There’s also the fact that until relatively recent history, ethnic Ukrainians were virulently anti-semitic. While my family always identified as “Russian Jews” my paternal grandparents shtetl outside of Kyiv & my maternal grandfather came from Odessa so it was weird to have to explain to my mom that, technically, we’re from Ukraine though were are definitely not Ukrainian. Many “Russian Jews” are also from Poland (which was also virulently antisemitic) but lived on towns that were on the border of Poland & Russian controlled Ukraine. My maternal grandmother used to say that whether her town was Russian or Polish depended on which day of the week it was but that she was pretty sure it was Poland the day she was born. She hated the Russians more than the Poles so whenever asked she’d say she was a Polish Jew (in truth all of her documents state Russia as she was born in a town on the western side of Ukraine that I wouldn’t consider being on the border but I don’t know how wide the margins of the border really was)

  21. Dashen'ka says:

    Yeah no. Am from Russia (now USA) there is no way this was accident! Just no. This is Russian salad yes (called Olivier, good if you like mayo! )) but “Z” not ambiguous. Screw every apologist. I do not even want to say I’m Russophone irl bc I’m ashamed tho my accent is obvious.

    • Jaded says:


    • Katherine says:

      Yes, that is not a simple potato salad, that is olivier, a traditional salad people make for the New Year’s Eve celebration and for birthdays/anniversaries in several former soviet countries. That adds a whole new layer to the caption.

      • tealily says:

        I mean, to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with eating Russian salad and posting about being Russian or whatever. That’s cool. One of my best friends has Russian heritage and her potato salad is bomb. But Irina should have known better with those Zs and it’s hard to not read that as support for Putin.

  22. There are blinds she was Putin’s mistress

  23. jferber says:

    To hell with her then. I hope she gets no more model bookings, and honestly, she’s getting a little long in the tooth for them. If she’s courting Putin, let her return to be his mistress again.

  24. MRS.Jogi says:

    I have been a fan of her modelling work for years. There is no way that she did not know what those ZZ mean. I am disappointed in her.

  25. NYB says:

    So nice to read this –
    “As the finnish say – “a russian will always be a russian, even if you fry it in butter”.”
    “Good russian is a *** russian”.
    I have russian passport and no other one, so what? Noone of my relatives is taking part in that crazyness, I did not vote for Putin etc.

    Stop posting fascist quotes about ALL russians, othervise you are not better then brainwashed russian people believing all ukranians are evil.
    Or let also call all americans serial killers for many many wars US happily supported.

    • Enny says:

      Uh… thanks for sharing. As a Russian you’d do well at this time to have a little humility and recognize that you do owe the world more than calling Russian detractors “fascists.”

  26. OAS says:

    As a Ukrainian-American with lots of family in Ukraine, color me unsympathetic about Russian expats unwillingness to speak out. Missiles are flying over my family’s homes. Kids are getting murdered daily in Ukraine. And they’re afraid to say words? Cowards. What is happening is because that society made a Faustian bargain with Putin: stability and economic prosperity in exchange for their freedom. Putin’s regime wasn’t always as repressive as it. And Russia is a Russian supremacist society – even their liberals are in favor of imperial expansion.