The Soviet Monument Bulgarians Keep Using as a Canvas For Political Art

The most recent act, a nod to anti-government protesters in Kiev, has drawn the ire of Russian officials. Again.

Unknown artists repainted a Soviet-era monument in the colors of the Ukranian flag last weekend in Sofia, Bulgaria. The gesture, in solidarity with the anti-government protestors in Kiev, also included graffiti that says "Glory to Ukraine" and, according to Novinite, obscene words in reference to Vladimir Putin. 

This has become a familiar story for the edifice. Built in 1954 during Communist rule, the Monument to the Soviet Army stands in the city center near Sofia University. In recent years, it has turned into a canvas for anonymous political statements on multiple occasions. 

Last summer, ski masks were put on the faces of the Soviet soldiers portrayed on the monument's base as a reference to the anti-Putin art collective Pussy Riot. Not surprisingly, this upset Russian officials. So has the most recent creation. Russia's Foreign Ministry has sent a letter to the Bulgarian government demanding an investigation of the "vandal incident" and asked officials to take "necessary measures" to keep the monument presentable.

Previously, the monument saw its soldiers spray-painted in pink with graffiti beneath it saying, "Bulgaria apologizes" (in reference to country's role in the crushing of the Prague Spring uprising of 1968). A previous adaptation turned the soldiers into a range of comic book characters, Ronald McDonald, and Santa Claus, with a tag saying "moving with the times." Russian officials found it to be exceptionally cynical.

A woman poses for a picture with the figures of Soviet soldiers at the base of the Soviet Army monument, parts of which have been painted in the colours of the Ukranian flag by an unknown person, in Sofia February 23, 2014. (REUTERS/Pierre Marsaut)
Figures of Soviet soldiers at the base of the Soviet Army monument are pictured after being painted in pink by an unknown artist in Sofia August 21, 2013. Unknown artists have painted the nine soldiers in pink during the night on Wednesday, and wrote "Bulgaria apologizes" both in Bulgarian and Czech language in what appears to be an artistic apology for Bulgaria's support in smashing the Prague Spring uprising against the Communist rule on August 20-21, 1968. (REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov)
The figures of Soviet soldiers at the base of a Soviet Army monument, painted by an unknown artist, is pictured in Sofia June 17, 2011. The figures were painted to resemble U.S. comic book heroes and characters from popular culture like Santa Claus and Ronald McDonald, the mascot of fast-food chain giant McDonald's. The inscription below them reads: "Moving with the times". (REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov) 
A member of the Bulgarian Socialist Party's youth organization cleans a statue, part of the Soviet Army monument in central Sofia February 18, 2010. Members of the organization gathered on Thursday to clean the monument for the upcoming celebrations of Russia's Defender of Motherland Day on February 23. (REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov)

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