Soviet Army monument in Sofia painted pink to apologise for Prague Spring

A metal bas-relief, part of the Soviet Army monument in Bulgarian capital city Sofia, has been painted pink overnight, with an inscription underneath apologising for Bulgaria’s part in the invasion that ended the Prague Spring in 1968.

August 21 marks the 45th anniversary of the invasion by troops from the Soviet Union and other communist bloc countries – Romania being the sole exception – that ended the period of unprecedented political liberalisation in Czechoslovakia.

Bulgaria, which was Soviet Union’s closest ally in the communist bloc and even contemplated joining the Soviet Union at one point, was the first country in the Warsaw Pact to insist on military intervention in Czechoslovakia. It was also the last country in the communist bloc to apologise for its part in quelling the Prague Spring, in 1990.

The inscription under the painted bas-relief reads “Bulharsko se omlouvá” (Bulgaria is apologising). The colour choice was not picked at random either, with Czech artist David Černý repeatedly painting the monument to Soviet tank crews in Prague pink, Bulgarian media noted.

The Soviet Army monument has been a lightning rod for controversy in recent years, with several civil groups demanding that it is moved from its current place in central Sofia to the city’s museum of communism, opened in 2011. Such demands are opposed by Russophile groups in Bulgaria, who say that it represents Bulgaria’s liberation from the fascist regime and any attempt to move it was tantamount to historical revisionism.

In June 2011, the same bas-relief was painted overnight to turn the metal soldiers into well-known pop culture icons; the inscription below the composition proclaimed it to be “in step with the times”.

Photo: Maria Vassileva/
Photo: Maria Vassileva/

Comic book characters led the way, with The Mask, Batman’s nemesis the Joker, Wolverine of X-Men fame, Superman and Captain America all featured, joined by Santa Claus and Ronald McDonald, among others. The flag held by the soldiers was painted in the stars and stripes of the US flag.

After several days, the paint was washed off – some reports said that the money to pay for it came from the Sofia city hall, others claimed that it was one of the Russophile associations in the country.

(Top image: screengrab from Bulgarian National Television)



The Sofia Globe staff

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