Police in Bulgarian capital Sofia took a 22-year-old man into 72-hour custody after he sprayed graffiti on the Soviet Army Monument opposing a visit by French far-right party National Rally leader Marine Le Pen.
On the night of November 15, soon after 11pm, closed-circuit television cameras captured the man spraying on the monument: “Refugees welcome – Le Pen go home”.
Le Pen was in Sofia on November 16 for a meeting of the Europe of Nations and Freedom Group, the smallest group in the European Parliament, held to prepare a shared strategy for the 2019 European Parliament elections. In the Bulgarian capital, she described the EU as the “biggest enemy of Europe” and continued to spread her anti-migration message.
A statement by Sofia police said that the man was initially ordered held at a police station for 24 hours. After the gathering of evidence by the Sofia Regional Prosecutor’s Office, the man was formally placed under arrest and ordered into 72-hour custody.
Authorities in Sofia recently stepped up security near the Soviet Army Monument, which dates from the communist era and commemorates the Soviet invasion of Bulgaria in 1944 that opened the way for that era.
The monument, the subject of regular calls for its removal, has been a frequent canvas for political messages, with many recent examples including daubing against Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. In an incident reported around the world, some years ago the figures on the frieze of the monument were redecorated as popular culture heroes including Superman and Ronald McDonald. These incidents have tended to annoy the Russian embassy.
(Photos via the Facebook page of the Sofia regional directorate of the Interior Ministry)