One person was arrested on the night of August 24 amid tensions between supporters of the Levski football club and a group “defending” the Soviet Army Monument in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia.
The incident followed a match between Levski FC and Eintracht Frankfurt, where Levski supporters were pictured holding a banner saying “fold up the tents, we’re coming in a moment”.
This was a reference to the small tent camp erected by those opposed to the moves by pro-Western national and Sofia municipal authorities to remove the Soviet Army Monument from its place in the centre of Bulgaria’s capital city.
Large cordons of police prevented a physical clash as the Levski supporters tried to approach the monument. A man who broke a bottle was immediately taken into police custody.
A fence is to be erected around the monument, which official tests by municipal officials have found to be structurally potentially dangerous.
Some days ago, Levski supporters damaged the monument, breaking parts of it with hammers.
It remains unclear when the monument will be removed, with supporters of a minority extra-parliamentary leftist party, backed by pro-Kremlin Vuzrazhdane and the Bulgarian Socialist Party, have vowed to oppose.
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.
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