Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
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.