Bulgaria: Supreme court overturns ruling against dismantling of Soviet Army Monument

Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Court has overturned an earlier ruling by the Sofia City Administrative Court ordering a halt to the dismantling of the figures of the Soviet Army Monument in the capital city.

The Sofia City Administrative Court issued the ruling on December 19 2023. As The Sofia Globe reported at the time, the figures already had been dismantled.

The application to the court for an order against the dismantling was lodged by the Izpravi ce BG association, represented by former ombudsman Maya Manolova, city councillor Voyslav Todorov and individuals Viktor Yochev and Georgi Kadiev.

The supreme court held that the Sofia court’s ruling was incorrect because the associations and the individuals had no legal interest in the matter.

“In order for a legal interest to exist, this interest must be direct, personal and immediate,” the supreme court said.

“In this case, the actions of dismantling and cutting the bronze figures of the Soviet Army Monument do not directly and immediately affect the legal sphere of the applicant individuals and do not directly and immediately harm their subjective rights and interests, therefore their request should have been left without consideration due to lack of legal interest,” it said.

The segments of the figures that were on the monument were placed in storage after being removed from the plinth.

On March 21, Sofia district governor Vyara Todeva published an invitation for a market consultation to determine the estimated value of a public tender for the restoration of the figures.

The district administration said at the time that the market consultation was being launched because no public procurements of a similar type had been awarded or executed.

At the same time, the procedure for submitting a conceptual project to the Culture Ministry regarding placing the figures in the Museum of Socialist Art in Sofia was also launched.

The monument as it was before the December 2023 process of dismantling began.

The monument, which dates back 70 years to Bulgaria’s communist era and commemorates the Soviet invasion of Bulgaria towards the close of the Second World War, was the subject of repeated calls during the decades of Bulgaria’s post-communist era, for it either to be destroyed wholly or at least moved out of its place of prominence in the centre of the city.

It also repeatedly was targeted for graffiti, and ire against it heightened after Russia’s February 2022 illegal invasion of Ukraine.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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