Dismantling of figures on the Soviet Army Monument in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia began on the morning of December 12.
This was in line with an order issued some days ago by Sofia district governor Vyara Todeva on the grounds that an inspection had found that cracks and erosion within the 70-year-old structure rendered it a hazard to the public.
There have been calls for many years for the removal of the monument, which commemorates the Soviet invasion of Bulgaria towards the close of the Second World War, which opened the way for decades of communist rule of Bulgaria.
A large number of police and Gendarmerie were deployed around the structure as the dismantling process began.
Speaking to reporters at the scene, Todeva said that for now, the figures would be moved to state property and would be strictly guarded. There has been a proposal for the figures to be displayed at the Museum of Socialist Art in Sofia, while the fate of the rest of the structure and the space where it stands is yet to be decided.
“On the figure of the soldier’s legs there are serious cracks, in some places up to four to five centimetres,” Todeva said.
Sculptor Marin Markov said that the soldier’s figure’s legs were split along their entire length, the reason being that when the monument was installed, concrete was poured into the legs, and over time, water seeped in, which froze in winter, splitting the cast.
In a post on Facebook, We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria MP Ivailo Mirchev said, to those who might say that fixing the pavements in Sofia was more important than consigning the monument to history: “We will fix the pavements. However, the capital is more than the pavement we walk on.
“The capital is the heart of a country and its direction, and its flag, and its face to the world.”
The monument to the occupying Red Army is certainly not the biggest problem of the capital city, Mirchev said.
“However, it is the most significant problem, both for Sofia and for Bulgaria. Because we are not talking about stones and slabs and sculptures here. We are talking about the shadow of a huge change that this symbol of occupation casts not just over the capital, but over our entire history since Liberation [from Ottoman rule],” he said.
“We are not just removing a monument, we are taking back the opportunity to understand history through our own prism, instead of through that of Russian propaganda. We take back the opportunity not to be ashamed when children ask us ‘Why is this monument here?’. We are regaining our freedom in the sky above Sofia,” Mirchev said.
(Photos: Ivailo Mirchev’s Facebook page)
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