The American attack submarine at the Russian naval base in Gadzhievo has been repainted into a Russian submarine bearing a “Z”

It’s been a busy week for muralists Natalya Popova and Sergei Beresnev. Just a few days ago, the two artists painted a large mural in Gadzhievo, the closed military town that is home to Russia’s newest submarines.

The mural depicted a submarine sailing on the surface surrounded by waves and storm clouds. The image had won an online design competition organized by local authorities.

The only problem was that the submarine was not Russian, but American. The mural showed an American submarine, probably of the Los Angeles class, a kind of submarine that frequently hunts Russian ships in the Barents Sea just a few kilometers off the coast of Gadzhievo.

The painting on the wall of the house soon sparked massive protests from locals, many of whom were submariners who had spent years at sea for the Northern Fleet.

Only a few days later, the wall of the house in Gadzhievo underwent a noticeable overhaul.

Today, the American submarine in the Russian submarine base is no more. On the wall of the downtown house is instead a Russian submarine. And there’s a “Z” on the front, the Nazi-inspired symbol of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


The Gadzhievo mural before and after. It is said to have been painted by artists Natalya Popova and Sergei Beresnev from the city of Polyarny. Photos from local VK and Almaz trust company.

In a comment on Telegram, Murmansk Governor Andrei Chibis applauds the two muralists. They made an excellent fresco, he says.

And it tells a whole different story than the original. According to Andrei Chibis, the mural is an initiative of the local trust company Almaz. The image was chosen by locals in an online vote, then painted by muralists Popova and Beresnev.

“Now a strategic missile submarine watches over the central plaza,” he wrote.

The Governor’s version of the story is backed by the Almaz corporation itself.

“Here is our gift to our dear city, [and] as we promised, it will be ready in due time before Navy Day,” the company wrote on its VK page in reference to July 31 dedicated to sailors of the Russian Navy.

“And of course we could not fail to support our friends who are fighting for us in Ukraine,” the company adds, and deliberately includes the letter Z in the message.

The Z is the main symbol used by the Russian authorities in their war against Ukraine. Many argue that it resembles the Nazi Germans’ use of the swastika.

“Russia will win! Russia always wins! reads the message from the trust company.

Gadzhievo is one of the strongest naval bases in Russia. It is home to the lion’s share of the country’s new Borei-class strategic submarines, as well as the Yasen general-purpose attack submarines.

It is located about 50 km north of Murmansk and is part of the closed military municipality of Aleksandrovsk. The city has a population of about 13 thousand.

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