Bulgaria: Sofia city council votes to ask for Soviet Army Monument to be moved from city centre

Sofia city council voted on March 9 to instruct mayor Yordanka Fandukova to ask the state to move the Soviet Army Monument from the centre of the Bulgarian capital city.

The monument was erected in 1954, while Bulgaria was under communist rule. It commemorates the Soviet invasion of Bulgaria at the close of the Second World War. The communist line was that the 1944 invasion, which led to the end of the monarchy and to decades of communist rule, was a “liberation”. To date, left-wing parties continue to revere the monument.

The vote to ask for the removal of the monument was 41 in favour, 13 against, with one abstention.

Those who voted in favour were the GERB-UDF group, Democratic Bulgaria, Patriots for Sofia and independent city councillors.

The request, to be made to the Sofia district governor, is to move the monument to the Museum of Socialist Art or to some other state-owned land away from the city centre.

Democratic Bulgaria tabled the proposal in 2020, but the matter did not proceed because GERB-UDF kept it off the agenda. This changed recently when GERB-UDF leader Boiko Borissov made a public call for the removal of the monument.

Some weeks ago, an inspection by municipal officials found that the condition of the monument was a hazard to the public, and it considerably exceeded the size originally approved.

The morning of the city council meeting saw protests at the monument and outside Sofia city council headquarters against the removal of the monument. Participants in the protest, in which red flags rivalled Bulgarian flags in number, pelted the city council building with eggs and red paint.

Caretaker Prime Minister Gulub Donev said on March 9 that a decision on the fate of the monument should taken only after Bulgaria’s April 2 early parliamentary elections.

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