Emotive monuments “move with the times”*

Superman at the Red Army monument Sofia


While Macedonia provokes Greek outrage with the erection of its “Warrior on a Horse” in Skopje, Bulgaria was been in turmoil over one of its own historical and controversial monuments.

Overnight last Saturday, parts of the Red Army Monument in central Sofia were given a painted makeover. Reaction over the next few days was intense and varied.

The offending paint and slogan (‘move with the times’*) were removed in the small hours of Monday morning, provoking even more consternation from some inhabitants, annoyed that the cleaning was finished well before the published starting time (their media moment lost?).

The Russians got around to making their official complaints, but these were mysteriously delayed until Tuesday, by which time the entire situation had returned to normal.

The ‘artists’ or ‘vandals’, depending on one’s point of view, have remained unidentified so far, although the police are apparently searching for the culprit(s).

graffiti on Red Army monument Sofia

Before and after

Some locals saw the graffiti job as merely a part of Sofia Design Week, which happened to be running at that time. Some saw it as a harmless prank. But others are infuriated by this ‘desecration’ of a monument to an army that liberated Bulgaria at the end of World War II.

It’s a universal, but odd, phenomenon, that public commemorative statues and monuments can become the target of so many emotions and a partial (should I say, partisan?) reading of history.

“The Russian embassy in Sofia expressed their position in an official statement saying that “this indignant act of vandalism is insulting for the memory of all Russian soldiers who liberated Bulgaria and Europe [my italics] from the Nazis”.”[1]

I am left to wonder whether the painter(s) realised or cared – or knew precisely – what extreme emotions and indignation would be unleashed on all sides. Another Balkan mystery!

Source [1]: Sofia Echo

Picture sources: Internet – various


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