May 24. 2024. 6:40

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Soviet Army monument in Sofia to be removed after years of debate


A large monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia will finally be removed after years of opposition from former prime minister Boyko Borissov’s party, GERB.

Though the pro-European coalition Democratic Bulgaria submitted its proposal to remove the monument to the Sofia Council three years ago, it has now been included in the agenda of one of the Council’s Committees, and will likely be discussed at the session of Council scheduled for Thursday.

According to the proposal from Democratic Bulgaria, Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova is to request the state to move the monument to state property outside the city centre.

“The monument was built for propaganda so that it would be in a central place to be constantly passed by. Nowadays, this propaganda goal has fallen away, and with it, the need for its central location, with which it dominates all Bulgarian institutions”, the proposal, which also notes how dangerous the monument is for passers-by, writes.

The proposal also states that the monument is unrelated to a historical event.

The Soviet Union declared war on Bulgaria on 5 September 1944 and entered Bulgarian territory on 8 September 1944. The occupation lasted until 1947 and cost Bulgaria BGN 82 billion in loss of raw materials and agricultural production.

“In this sense, this monument, which calls the army occupying our country a ‘liberator’, is misleading for the young generation, which did not witness that time and did not study it in school,” the Democratic Bulgaria report says.

While Borissov’s party has refused to consider the proposal submitted three years ago, last week, Borissov suddenly spoke out about dismantling the monument.

He called for the immediate removal of the inscription from the monument, which was broken by a citizen in protest against Russian aggression in Ukraine. A few hours later, Fandakova announced that a Committee had certified the inscription as dangerous and that it would be removed.

Before that, Borisov also stated that the municipal councillors of GERB in Sofia would join the initiative of Democratic Bulgaria to dismantle the monument.

The City Council has a decision from 1993 to remove the monument, which has not been implemented.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the monument has become a place for anti-war protests, with protesters going as far as the inscription indicating that the Soviet Army liberated Bulgaria in 1944 just a few days ago – an act that was described as “blasphemy” by the Russian ambassador to Sofia, Eleonora Mitrofanova.

(Krassen Nikolov | EURACTIV.bg)