site.btaUPDATED Sofia Begins to Dismantle Parts of Its Soviet Army Monument

Sofia Begins to Dismantle Parts of Its Soviet Army Monument
Sofia Begins to Dismantle Parts of Its Soviet Army Monument
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The process of dismantling parts of the Soviet Army Monument in downtown Sofia began on Tuesday. "The tallest figures will be taken down," Sofia Regional Governor Vyara Todeva told journalists.

Todeva explained that the figures which are to be removed will be inventoried and transported to a place for safekeeping. This will be followed by the award of a public procurement contract to restore the figures. The governor noted that the monument has not been restored for 70 years. An examination has revealed major cracks on the sculptures.

After the restoration, the figures will be put on display at the Museum of Socialist Art. Eventually, they may be moved to another site.

Sculptor Marin Markov said some of the cracks are 4-5 cm deep. The metal has been eroded by the moisture which has seeped through the concrete base of the figures over the years, he said.

The Monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia is the most impressive of several dozen such structures scattered throughout the country and one of over 4,000 memorials to the USSR's drive against Hitler's Germany in WW II across Europe. For long years, there has been talk of taking it down and moving it out of the city centre but the issue has turned out to be too sensitive for some people - and political parties in Bulgaria.

On Tuesday, Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) leader Kornelia Ninova commented: "Every monument is a piece of history, and we erase a piece of history every time we remove a monument." Ninova was taking part in a constitutional reform meeting in the National Assembly.

The BSP chapter in the Sofia borough of Sredets, where the Soviet Army Monument is located, said in a letter to the borough mayor, Traicho Traikov, that the monument is not physically dangerous - the real danger comes from "your attitude to history".

BSP for Bulgaria Deputy Floor Leader Ivan Chenchev said on Nova News TV that the examination of the monument was motivated by political considerations rather than experts' concerns about the structure's safety. "I knew that, all of a sudden, the monument would prove dangerous," Chenchev said. "There are certainly other monuments as old as this one, but they have not been examined for safety." He added that the examination should be challenged in court.

Sofia Municipal Councillor Deyan Nikolov said his Vazrazhdane party has asked the prosecution service to investigate all actions of officials involved in the dismantling of the monument. According to Nikolov, many of the related procedures are covert and even at the edge of the law. To remove the Soviet Army Monument is to restore Nazism in what is effectively a totalitarian society, he argued.

GERB party leader Boyko Borissov commented: "People should be able to see the bad as well as the good." Although he did not say it in so many words, the ex-prime minister is apparently opposed to the removal of the monument.

/RY/

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By 08:30 on 22.05.2024 Today`s news

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