The district administration of Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia said on August 11 that it could not commit to a specific deadline within this year for finalising the project to remove the Soviet Army Monument from the 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. At government level, nothing happened about the matter in the months during which there was a Sofia district governor appointed by President Roumen Radev.
On August 2, Bulgaria’s pro-Western government, that took office in June, changed the status of the state property where the monument stands, in a move to facilitate the city council removing the monument from its current location.
Saying that it was fulfilling its promise to keep the public information, the Sofia city district administration said that from the response of the National Gallery that a possible exhibition of elements of the monument in the Museum of Art from the Socialist Period will be possible after the preparation of numerous additional expert evaluations and analyses.
A geophysical and geological analysis of the terrain and its underground part is needed to assess whether the monument can be stably placed, the district administration said, adding that an engineering project is also required.
According to data from the National Gallery, the exact diameter and exact weight of some of the ornaments on the monument are currently unclear – data that must be included in the project documentation.
This documentation had been requested from Sofia municipality, which had replied that they could not find the documentation in the archive.
The statement added that in March 2023, the chief architect – the equivalent of a town planner – at Sofia municipality had issued an order for the removal of the broken plaque, as well as ordering restriction of access to the site.
Strictly observing the letter of the law, as well as the commitments made to the residents of the city, the district governor of the Sofia district, Vyara Todeva, was taking the necessary actions to recover the project documentation of the monument, as well as to study the possibility of the sculptural figures and bas-reliefs from the monument being exhibited on the territory of the National Gallery, the district administration said.
“In view of the time required to complete the procedure, to date the regional administration cannot commit to a specific deadline for finalising the project within this year. We will keep the public informed of next steps,” the statement said.
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”.
Those who oppose the place of the monument in a highly visible spot in central Sofia have called, over the years, variously for its dismantling or for it to be moved to the Museum of Socialist Art.
The monument has been the target of daubings frequently in recent years, including in solidarity with Ukraine.
In recent days, a minority extra-parliamentary leftist party has put up a little “tent camp”, vowing to “defend” the monument.
(Photo: Иван, via Wikimedia Commons)
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