Who Knew Potato Salad Could Cause So Much Controversy?

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images

On Wednesday, model Irina Shayk posted an Instagram Story depicting what appeared to be dill-heavy potato salad. Nothing noteworthy about that, right? Wrong. The photo in question has sparked controversy, not because of the inclusion of dill or what seems to be a heavy amount of mayo but because of the cryptic caption: “Russianzz on Wednaday…”

While it is not exactly clear why Shayk would choose to spell Russians that way in reference to what the Daily Mail has helpfully identified as a traditional Russian Olivier salad, some followers have interpreted the extra Z’s in “Russianzz” as the nationalist Z symbol. The letter Z has appeared painted on Russian military vehicles invading Ukraine and is used throughout the country as a symbol of pro-war sentiment, with the Russian Defense Ministry offering various translations, including “For Victory” and “For Peace.” It also appeared on the shirt of a Russian gymnast back in March.

Shayk, who was born in a mining town in the Soviet Union, has expressed support for Ukraine since the invasion. In February, she posted a peace symbol on Instagram with the caption “No To War” and announced she’d be donating to UNICEF and Red Cross Ukraine to support the country. Still, this is not the first time she’s posted a confusing Russian reference on her Instagram. In April 2020, a bizarre photo of her lounging while reading a book called Putin raised eyebrows. That post has since been taken down, and as of Friday morning, the potato-salad post is no longer visible on her Instagram Story. She has yet to publicly comment on this latest controversy.

Who Knew Potato Salad Could Cause So Much Controversy?