President Radev on Soviet monuments: It’s up to the Bulgarian foreign ministry to respond to the Russian foreign ministry

Written by on November 11, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on President Radev on Soviet monuments: It’s up to the Bulgarian foreign ministry to respond to the Russian foreign ministry

There is a clear protocol, that the Bulgarian foreign ministry should respond to the Russian foreign ministry, Bulgarian President Roumen Radev said in a television interview after being asked about a challenge from Moscow for him to comment on vandalism attacks on Soviet monuments.

Radev’s statement in the November 10 interview with Bulgarian National Television was a sequel to him having condemned a November 2 claim by Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova that the Soviet Army rescued Bulgarian Jews from the Holocaust.

Radev said on November 4 that Zakharova’s claim was either deep ignorance of history or a provocation. Zakharova made the controversial claim while commenting on the daubing of an anti-Semitic slogan on the Soviet Army monument in Sofia.

It was a notably sharp criticism of Moscow on the part of Radev, who was elected head of state in 2016 on a ticket backed by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party. At the time of his election, some Bulgarian and foreign media described Radev as “pro-Russian” though he had insisted that his policy was to have a “balanced” relationship with Russia.

At Zakharova’s November 9 briefing, she was asked about Radev’s comment, to which she responded: “Has the President of Bulgaria said anything about the defacing of Russian monuments?”

Zakharova complained that the issue had become about history, instead of about Moscow’s displeasure at repeated incidents of vandalism of Soviet monuments and what she called a lack of appropriate reaction on the part of Bulgaria.

Radev told BNT that he saw the defacing of monuments as unacceptable, while adding that confrontation was not mutually beneficial.

Meanwhile, the Alyosha Soviet soldier monument in Plovdiv, defaced with anti-Semitic and anti-Russian slogans on the night after Zakharova’s briefing, has already been cleaned, Plovdiv news website podtepeto.com said.

After a police forensics team had examined the site, a cleaning team went to work, using sandblasters to remove the graffiti. By about 30 minutes before sunset, the daubings had been removed.

According to podtepeto.com, investigators believed the graffiti to have been the work of a single individual who also had sprayed graffiti in the centre of Plovdiv, in other incidents. This belief was based on handwriting analysis, the report said.

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About the Author

Clive Leviev-Sawyer is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe. He is the author of the book Bulgaria: Politics and Protests in the 21st Century (Riva Publishers, 2015).