Anti-fascist groups protest vandalization of Red Army monument in Bulgaria

Attacks on Soviet monuments in Eastern Europe have become a regular affair as right-wing governments have initiated de-communization drives. These campaigns have intensified after the Ukraine war broke out

August 22, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Soviet Monument vandalized - Bulgaria
Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) leaders addressing the media in front of the Soviet Monument in Sofia. (Photo via BSP)

Leftist and anti-fascist groups in Bulgaria have protested the vandalization of the Soviet Army monument in the capital Sofia last week. On August 18, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and its youth union protested the attack on the monument and the tent camps of people defending it. The attack was allegedly perpetrated by far-right fans of a football club. The BSP has accused the ‘Euro-Atlanticist’ government in the country of moving towards a revival of fascism and a denial of everything progressive.

The Monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia was built in 1954 to mark the role of the Soviet Red Army in the liberation of Bulgaria from the sphere of Nazi Germany’s influence during World War II. The Kingdom of Bulgaria was a part of the Nazi Germany-led Axis forces during the War. In September 1944, the Fatherland Front formed by communist partisans captured power in the country with the support of the Soviet Union by overthrowing the monarchy. Bulgaria joined the Allies immediately after, and the Bulgarian army operated alongside the 3rd Ukrainian Front of the Soviet Red Army and fought against the remaining Nazis in Eastern Europe.

In 2019, the European Parliament passed a controversial resolution calling for the erasure of all memorials of “totalitarianism” across Europe, including memorials dedicated to the Red Army. The ongoing war in Ukraine has led to a spike in Russophobia and anti-communism across Europe, especially in Eastern Europe, as right-wing groups and governments in the region have intensified their attempts at decommunization. In this backdrop, the monument in Sofia became a center of controversy as far-right groups continued to vandalize it. Anti-communist and Russophobic groups also started a campaign to relocate the monument from the city center to the Museum of Socialist Art. However, the Sofia City Council’s bid to relocate the monument courted widespread protests from left-wing progressive sections in the country. Cadres of anti-fascist groups recently set up tent camps around the monument to defend it from miscreants and vandals.

On August 18, Tasko Ermenkov from the BSP stated that his party strongly condemned and opposed any act of vandalism against monuments and the memory of the people, and was against violence against peaceful protesting citizens and attempts to divide the society.

“The monument in Sofia is a Bulgarian monument built by Bulgarians, with Bulgarian money, a work of Bulgarian architects. It is in memory of an army that liberated Europe from Hitlerofascism – it consisted not only of Russians but also of Ukrainians, Belorussians, French, Poles, and Bulgarians. And whoever fights against this monument, dedicated to the victors over Hitlerofascism, puts himself on the side of the defeated. And this is dangerous because it leads to a revival of fascism, which will have good consequences neither for Europe nor for the people,” he said.