• Presidents, Soldiers, and Celebrities: An Analysis of Post-Communist Monuments to Foreigners

    • July 23, 2018 - 2:47 pm
    • Foreigners, Former Yugoslavia, WWII
    • Comments Off on Presidents, Soldiers, and Celebrities: An Analysis of Post-Communist Monuments to Foreigners

    by Isabel Post

    ARIA Undergraduate Researcher at McGill University

    What do Hillary Clinton, James Joyce, and Michael Jackson have in common? For one thing, they’re all memorialized in the post-Communist world. A search through the Post-Communist Monuments Project’s database illustrates the prevalence and content of monuments to foreigners in this space. In this article, I’ll discuss the distribution of nationalities of the figures memorialized as well as the contexts for their memorialization. Finally, I will explore the social significance of a recent spate of monuments to foreign celebrities.

    I focused my analysis on the memorialization of nationals not of the Communist/post-Communist states in order to identify patterns in their commemoration. In total, only a small percentage of entries in the post-Communist monuments database concerned monuments dedicated to foreigners; the figure stands at 4.17 percent, or 82 out of 2036 “newsworthy” monuments between 1984 and 2009. Generally, I did not include monuments to nationals of neighbouring Communist states (for example, a monument to Lenin in Ukraine) in this statistic. The number may seem low, however considering the fact that only 2.5 percent of the database’s entries go to women, it’s a significant figure.

    What country’s nationals are most represented in these monuments? There was plenty of overlap of media coverage on the same monument, so it doesn’t stand to quantify the entries. However, the number of monuments as a percentage of all monuments to foreigners is distributed as following: French (8 %), British (10%), American (24%), Japanese (16%), Swede (10%), Austrian (2%), Irish (4%), French (4%), Danish (2 %), Norwegian (2 %), West German (4%), Turkish (4%), Italian (10%), Venezuelan (2%), and Spanish (2%). While these figures can’t represent the actual distribution of monuments in the post-Communist world by nationality, they can speak to a general trend favoring Americans and Western Europeans.

    As shown by the data, while it seems that a foreigner’s best bet to being memorialized in the post-Communist world is to be from the United States or Western Europe, there is no particular nationality that dominates the category. More conducive to likelihood of memorialization is the experience of that individual that warranted their memorialization-- in other words, the content of a life lends itself better to likelihood of memorialization than nationality does. Of these monuments to foreigners, most commemorate military and civilian casualties of war. Within this category, most of these people lost their lives during World War II (including the Holocaust), followed by World War I, and finally the Yugoslav Wars. Other tragedies include the September 11th Attacks and imprisonment in the GULAG system. The next most common subject type is occupied by political actors, including politicians, diplomats, and military generals. Finally, a minority of monuments to foreigners commemorate writers, musicians, and other artists.

    It seems that nationality does not have bearing on what type of actor is commemorated. For example, monuments to Americans were primarily memorials to military servicemen but included artists and politicians. Japanese honoured were just as likely to be civilians as servicemen; several monuments were erected to Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara, who saved an estimated 6,000 Jews from murder during Holocaust. Tied for third place are monuments to British, Swedish, and Italian nationals. There is no distinct “type” of subject among these nationalities either-- for example, just under half of Monuments to Italians focus commemoration on a military figure or the military past of a figure otherwise occupied. The remainder includes such varied subjects as the 1000 Italians who perished in the GULAG system and poet Dante Alighieri.

    As Izabela Steflja writes in “To History or Hollywood: Monuments to Foreign Celebrities in 21st Century Balkans”, “Popular memories and their expressions, including monuments, exist because a specific community believes that an object, individual, or space is significant enough that it should be passed onto the next generation.” Civilian and military casualties of war, indigenous or foreign, are easily defensible as being worthy of commemoration for future generations; An example of such a defense might be that a nation’s war dead command the same respect as is attributed to the nation. More difficult to rationalize-- and therefore perhaps more socially significant in their creation-- are monuments to foreign artists and celebrities. Examples such as the James Joyce statue in Ljubljana and the Sylvester Stallone statue in Žitište, Serbia raise questions as to what leads to the commemoration of a figure, particularly when they are not tied to the geographic location of the monument. Steflja’s article treats the “spate of monuments” to western celebrities in the former Yugoslavia as a unique phenomenon and the result of “turning toward the outside”, or perhaps even a reflection of the idea to “think globally, act locally.” Critically, Steflja argues that in the Balkans, these have been civil-society led movements to memorialize these figures. Reception, however, has not been overwhelmingly positive: Steflja cites an artist’s criticism that through these monuments, “history is being replaced by Mickey Mouse.” Previously discussed data suggest that this is not the case, but rather that “legitimate” history is still very much the main focus of monuments to non-indigenous entities in the post-Communist world.

    To conclude, while monuments to foreigners in the post-Communist world are a minority, their prevalence in the collection of “newsworthy” monuments suggests they are relatively common. While there is no one nationality that dominates the grouping, Americans and Western Europeans are the focus of most of these monuments. The monuments are most likely to commemorate victims of the World Wars and the Holocaust, but political figures feature prominently as well. Finally, as discussed by Izabela Steflja, more recently constructed monuments to foreigners, unable to be attributed as war memorials, are likely reflective of an ideological shift towards openness and global citizenship, as exemplified in the Western Balkans.


    Izabela Steflja (2015) To History or to Hollywood? Monuments to Foreign Celebrities in Twenty-First Century Balkans, Europe-Asia Studies, 67:8, 1302-1327, DOI: 10.1080/09668136.2015.1075962

    Yekaterina Sinelschikova (2018) From Marx to Michael Jackson: Which Foreigners Are Honored with a Statue in Russia?" Russia Beyond. January 02, 2018.. https://www.rbth.com/arts/327205-foreigners-monuments-in-russia.

  • Putin the Emperor?

    By Maryna Polataiko for postcommunistmonuments.ca

    Secretary-General Poses with Statue of Putin in Moscowl

    Adorned with laurels, armor and a toga, a new Roman-emperor-style bust of Russian President Vladimir Putin has entered into the world. The initiative to erect the bronze-cast Putin was spearheaded by St. Petersburg Cossacks, with sculptor Pavel Greshnikov creating the likeness of the ruler. The idea to commemorate Putin came in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Eastern Ukraine, which Ataman of the St. Petersburg Cossacks Andrei Polyakov says is bringing the Russian empire back together again.

    This is not the first sculpture of Putin clad in curious attire. Pictured is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon posing with a grandiose monument to Putin at the Tsereteli Gallery in Moscow. Naturally, the Russian President is wearing Judo gear.

    Putin’s bust will be revealed on May 9, 2015 (‘Victory Day’) at a metro station at the edge of St. Petersburg, the emperor’s hometown.



    “Cossacks Plan Victory Day Bust of Putin As Roman Emperor.” Radio Free Europe, March 19, 2015. Accessed March 23, 2015. http://www.rferl.org/content/cossacks-putin-statue-as-roman-emporer/26909584.html.


    Dominic Smith. “Vladimir Putin to be Depicted as Roman Emperor in Statue Built in His Hometown.” Mirror, March 23, 2015. Accessed March 23, 2015. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/vladimir-putin-depicted-roman-emperor-5385828.


    “Russian Academy of Arts and Zurab Tsereteli Gallery. RusMania. Accessed March 23, 2015. http://rusmania.com/central/moscow-federal-city/moscow/khamovniki/?s=russian-academy-of-arts-and-zurab-tsereteli-gallery.

  • Armenia Celebrates Victory Day

    • May 28, 2015 - 11:30 pm
    • Armenia, WWII
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    By Maryna Polataiko for postcommunistmonuments.ca

    Armenia - Genocide Monument

    Photo: Armenian Genocide Monument

    While countries such as Ukraine and Uzbekistan are using the 70th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s defeat to spurn ties with Russia, Armenia is celebrating the occasion and is—simultaneously—strengthening ties with its former Soviet ringleader.

    Earlier this spring, members of the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly joined the Vice President of the Armenian National Assembly Hermine Naghdalyan in the “Memory Baton” ceremony honouring the anniversary. Drawing fire from the eternal flame in Yerevan, Russian delegates traveled back to Russian with the Armenian torch in order to add fire to a flame in St. Petersburg, where all the CIS members’ fires collide.

    On March 30, Chairman of the Russian State Duma Sergey Naryshkin arrived in Armenia for a tree-planting ceremony at the new Alley of Victory (located at the Armenian-Russian University) and was joined by Armenian Speaker of the National Assembly Galust Sahakyan. This event symbolized friendly relations between both states. Following the ceremony, a forum honouring the Great Victory took place. There, Shakyan drew parallels between the 70th anniversary of the Nazi defeat and the centennial of the Armenian genocide.

    Among other events, resources have been allocated to erecting and maintaining monuments honouring the War.

    In Russia, an Armenian temple in Moscow was blessed by Archbishop Yezras Nersisyan (Russian and Novo-Nakhchivan Eparchy of the Armenian Apostolic Church) to commemorate soldiers from the World Wars.

    Joint parades of Russian and Armenian soldiers are scheduled to take place May 9 in Gyumri and Yerevan.



    “Armenia to Celebrate Victory in Great Patriotic Was at a High Level—Government.” ARKA News Agency, March 30, 2015. Accessed April 2, 2015. http://arka.am/en/news/politics/armenia_to_celebrate_victory_in_great_patriotic_war_at_a_high_level_government/.


    “Armenian and Russian Parliamentary Speakers Participated in Forum Devoted to Victory in Great Patriotic War.” Armenpress, March 30, 2015. Accessed April 2, 2015. http://armenpress.am/eng/news/799737/armenian-and-russian-parliamentary-speakers-participated-in-forum-devoted-to-victory-in-great-patriotic.html.


    “Armenia Also Joined Great Patriotic War ‘Memory Baton.’” Armenpress, March 24, 2015. Accessed April 2, 2015. http://armenpress.am/eng/news/798917/armenia-also-joined-great-patriotic-war-memory-baton.html.


    “Marathon of Memory Reaches Armenia.” Vestnik Kavkaza, March 25, 2015. Accessed April 2, 2015. http://vestnikkavkaza.net/news/society/68431.html.


    “CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly Members Pay Floral Tribute to World War II Victims in Victory Park in Yerevan.” ARKA News Agency, March 24, 2015. Accessed April 2, 2015. http://arka.am/en/news/society/cis_inter_parliamentary_assembly_members_pay_floral_tribute_to_world_war_ii_victims_in_victory_park_/.


    “Spot for Armenian Temple Blessed on Moscow’s Poklonnaya Hill.” Vestnik Kavkaza, April 20, 2015. Accessed April 20, 2015. http://vestnikkavkaza.net/news/society/69826.html.


    “Haykakan Zhamanak: Armenian and Russian Servicemen to Conduct Parades in Yerevan and Gyumri.” Panorama, April 16, 2015. Accessed April 20, 2014. http://www.panorama.am/en/press/2015/04/16/hzh2/.


    “Memory Alley Dedicated to 70 Anniversary of Soviet People’s Victory over Nazis Opened in Yerevan.” ARKA News Agency, April 3, 2015. Accessed April 12, 2015. http://arka.am/en/news/politics/memory_alley_dedicated_to_70_anniversary_of_soviet_people_s_victory_over_nazis_opened_in_yerevan/.

  • Uzbekistan: Victory or Remembrance?

    • May 28, 2015 - 11:25 pm
    • Uzbekistan, WWII
    • Comments Off on Uzbekistan: Victory or Remembrance?

    By Maryna Polataiko for postcommunistmonuments.ca

    May 8, 2015, marks the 70th anniversary of the Nazi defeat in World War II. Some have been exultantly calling it “Victory Day” and others solemnly referring to it as the “Day of Remembrance.” While Russia has been preparing to celebrate and commemorate the ‘Great Patriotic War,’ some former U.S.S.R. republics are less keen to embrace what they see as a day lauding the Soviet exploitation of soldiers drafted for the campaign. Uzbekistan, for example lost tens of thousands in the effort against the Axis powers.

    Thus it is probably not an accident that the city authorities of Angren (Uzbekistan) have recently torn down a Soviet statue commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Soviet triumph. The removal of the memorial on March 19, assert Angren officials, is simply a component of a larger city development scheme.



    “Uzbeks Demolish World War II Memorial Ahead of Anniversary.” Radio Free Europe, March 20, 2015. Accessed March 20, 2015. http://www.rferl.org/content/uzbeks-demolish-ww2-memorial/26911293.html.


    “Uzbeks Demolish World War II Memorial.” The Gazette of Central Asia, March 20, 2015. Accessed March 20, 2015. http://www.satrapia.com/news/article/uzbeks-demolish-world-war-ii-memorial/.


    Isaah Tharoor. “70 Years Later the World is still Fighting World War II.” Washington Post, March 25, 2015. Accessed March 30, 2015. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2015/03/25/70-years-later-the-world-is-still-fighting-world-war-ii/.

  • The Impermanence of Perm-36

    By Maryna Polataiko for postcommunistmonuments.ca

    Пять заборов охраны.

    When hearing ‘gulag,’ many will associate the labor camps with the U.S.S.R.’s Stalinist era. Thus, some may be surprised to hear that the last camp holding political dissidents only closed in 1988. Located in the Urals, Perm-36 is the last intact camp standing in Russia. The site, since then, was converted to a museum on Soviet repression.

    But in the wake of Russia’s historical revisionism, Perm-36 is in trouble. After 20 years of operation, the historians managing the museum were supplanted by a state organization looking to change the historical narrative offered by the site. In light of the recent surge of approval ratings for Stalin, this shift comes as no surprise.

    Lately, Perm-36 has been the target of various investigations—the most recent focusing on accusations of the museum being a “foreign agent.” A recent Russian law stipulates that any domestic NGO accepting foreign funds must be documented as a “foreign agent”—a label evoking Cold War tensions and suspicion.

    Original plans to commemorate the victims of Soviet repression have been replaced by projects such as an anti-fascist World War II memorial, and an event celebrating Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn—a gulag prisoner upholding ‘appropriate’ nationalist ideals. It is noteworthy that the first exhibition under the new state leadership will be devoted to the guarding system and technical aspects of incarceration. The focus will radically change, shifting from political prisoners, repressions, and Stalin’s crimes to the camp system in general.



    “Gulag: Soviet Forced Labor Camps and the Struggle for Freedom.” Gulag Museum. Accessed April 25, 2015. http://gulaghistory.org/nps/about/history.php.


    Roland Oliphant. “The Only Russian Gulag Preserved as a Museum is Under Investigation for Accepting Foreign Donations.” The Telegraph, March 20, 2015. Accessed March 17, 2015. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/11481113/Russias-only-gulag-museum-faces-closure.html.


    Tom Balmforth. “Perm’s Big Chill.” Radio Free Europe, March 20, 2015. Accessed March 20, 2015. http://www.rferl.org/content/russia-perm-liberal-bastion-no-more/26911622.html.


    “Whitewashing Russia’s Gulag History.” Radio Free Europe, March 24, 2015. Accessed March 30, 2015. http://www.rferl.org/media/video/russia-gulag-perm/26918475.html.


    «'Пермь-36' станет музеем паботников ГУЛАГА, все упоминания о репрессиях и Сталине уберут.» NewsRu.com, March 5, 2015. Accessed March 10, 2015. http://www.newsru.com/russia/05mar2015/gulag.html.

  • Putting the Sleepers to Sleep

    • May 28, 2015 - 11:08 pm
    • Poland, Russia, WWII
    • Comments Off on Putting the Sleepers to Sleep

    By Maryna Polataiko for postcommunistmonuments.ca

    War on What?!

    On November 18th 1945, a statue depicting seven soldiers was raised on Wileński Square in Warsaw. On a tall, tiered base: Three Soviet soldiers stand ready for combat. Below, four Polish soldiers—the ‘Four Sleeping Soldiers’—stand guard. Celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany, the monument recognized the Soviet Red Army’s contribution to Poland’s independence. More broadly, the monument stood as a symbol for Soviet-Polish friendship. Yet the sleeping soldiers were not taken down following the collapse of the U.S.S.R.

    Only in 2011 were they taken down temporarily due to construction work being done on Warsaw’s metro system. In line with a 1994 intergovernmental agreement concerning war memorials, Warsaw officials agreed to return the monument post-construction. Its return, however, was met with public opposition. Today, the soldiers represent an outdated and unwanted Communist presence, coupled with the reminder of Poland’s involuntary friendship with Russia.

    In late February, Warsaw’s city council voted to hide the monument in a storeroom instead of returning it to Wileński Square. Amidst Polish-Russian tensions over Ukraine’s annexation, the decision to hide the monument is anything but apolitical.

    Russia has accused Poland of a disrespectful attitude to the monuments to Soviet soldiers. Warsaw asserts that the conflict draws on different understandings of memory about WWII. An expert from the Polish Council says that in Poland, people commemorate the memory of those fallen in the war (there are 630 Soviet soldiers’ cemeteries in Poland, all of them maintained by the state), while Russia honors the monuments, which he calls “the monuments of fraternal arms,” fixtures erected during the period of Soviet control.



    “Soviet Monument Banned From Returning to Warsaw Square.” The New York Times, February 27, 2015. Accessed March 15, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/02/27/world/europe/ap-eu-poland-soviet-monument.html?_r=1.


    Filip Lech. “Comradeship of the Sad and the Fighting: A History of Vanishing Monuments.” Culture.Pl, February 17, 2015. Accessed March 1, 2015. http://culture.pl/en/article/comradeship-of-the-sad-and-the-fighting-a-history-of-vanishing-monuments.


    “Soviet-Era Monument to Disappear from Warsaw Praga District.” Radio Poland, February 27, 2015. Accessed March 15, 2015. http://www.thenews.pl/1/9/Artykul/198554,Sovietera-monument-to-disappear-from-Warsaw%E2%80%99s-Praga-district.


    Юрій Савицький. «Шанування пам'яті померлих чи культ радянських пам'ятників?» Радіо Свобода, May 3, 2015. Accessed May 3, 2015. http://www.radiosvoboda.org/content/article/26987441.htm.

  • Belarus and the Great Patriotic War

    • May 28, 2015 - 11:06 pm
    • Belarus, WWII
    • Comments Off on Belarus and the Great Patriotic War

    By Maryna Polataiko for postcommunistmonuments.ca


    Photo: Belarus Museum of the Great Patriotic War

    During a CIS Foreign Ministers Council session in early October 2014, Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei announced the state’s intention to cast a spotlight on the Great Patriotic War—the battle between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany between 1941 and 1945—and its resulting tragedy within the international community. Makei’s goal is to emphasize the sacrifices made by the USSR in the name of “freedom and independence.”

    This initiative will not only necessitate the conservation of old monuments to the War, but will require the creation and installation of new ones as well. The restoration of the Belarusian Great Patriotic War Museum located in Minsk is said to be an example of this project.

    This March, Moscow’s Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War will be putting on an exhibit called “We were Together in the Fight Against Nazism,” which will consist of items loaned by the Museum of the Great Patriotic War in Minsk.

    According to the Belarusian Ministry of Culture, every former Soviet republic will be designated its own display. Anticipated to open in April, the exhibit will be part of a larger commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the battle’s end. The exhibit will be part of a larger Belarus-Russian project held in 2014 to celebrate the victory throughout their museums.




    “Belarus Calls For More Attention to Great Patriotic War Events.” Belarusian News: National Source of News, October 9, 2014. Accessed October 23, 2014.


    Eng.belta.by. 'Great Patriotic War Museums Of Belarus, Russia To Hold Joint Exhibition In Moscow | Culture | Headlines'. April 23, 2015. Web. Accessed April 25, 2015.

  • Desecration Dance

    • May 28, 2015 - 10:28 pm
    • Russia, WWII
    • Comments Off on Desecration Dance

    By Maryna Polataiko for postcommunistmonuments.ca

    Four young Russian women from Novorossiysk, Russia have been jailed for making a dance video. The video—now “Эротические танцы на мемориале ВОВ в Новороссийске” (“Erotic Dancing at the Novorossiysk WWII Memorial”) on Youtube—was meant to advertise dancehall classes at Art Dance, a local school in the city. Regrettably, the girls made the decision to film their dance in front of a World War II monument commemorating a 1943 battle against Nazi Germany.

    The ‘erotic and sexual twerk dance’ performed to ‘Touch You Tonight’ by Jamaican musician Aidonia is said to have disrespected to soldiers who fought in the war. Prosecutors are deliberating as to whether this video was a breach of a Russian criminal statute prohibiting ‘desecrating dead bodies and their places of internment.’

    Russian journalist Dmitriy Okrest provides an overview of various opinions, ranging from accusing the girls in 'koshchunstvo'/’sacrilege’ (similar to that of activist group ‘Pussy Riot’) and sentencing them to a prison term, to saying that they simply didn't think about the background.



    RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. 'Three Russian Women Jailed For Twerking Near WWII Memorial,' April 27, 2015. Accessed April 27, 2015. http://www.rferl.org/content/russian-women-jailed-for-twerking-at-war-memorial/26980368.html.


    Luhn, Alec. 'Three Jailed In Russia For Dance Video Filmed At Novorossiysk War Memorial,' The Guardian. April 26, 2015. April 27, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/26/three-jailed-in-russia-dance-video-novorossiysk.


    Дмитрий Окрест. "Тверкинг-2 на 'Малой земле.'" Как девушки получили 15 суток за танец на мемориале." Medialeaks, May 4, 2015. Accessed May 4, 2015. http://medialeaks.ru/features/2704_okr_tverk.



  • Latvian Petition Challenges Soviet War Memorial in Riga

    • March 29, 2014 - 10:58 am
    • Latvia, WWII
    • Comments Off on Latvian Petition Challenges Soviet War Memorial in Riga

    Russia's Itar-Tass news agency reports on renewed challenges to the Soviet WWII monument in Riga, Latvia, in the wake of Russia's takeover of Crimea and increasing rhetoric about protecting the interests of Russian co-ethnics in the Baltics and other countries of the former Soviet Union. Please see the complete story for a video of the statue and related links.

    Latvian parliament has no right to decide fate of Riga Soviet memorial

    October 28, 16:57 UTC+4

    RIGA, October 28 (Itar-Tass) - The memorial to Soviet Liberators of Riga is under Riga city council's supervision so the Sejm, Latvia’s parliament, has no right to decide its fate, Riga’s first mayor of Russian descent, Nils Ušakovs, said in an interview with LNT television channel on Monday.

    “I am not quite sure the Sejm can make any decision about this monument as it is municipal property. The issues of its erection, name and demolition are to be resolved solely by the municipality,” he said. Parliament may send the municipality a letter with recommendations that will be taken into consideration.

    Ušakovs pointed to the latest poll commissioned by Riga city council that has shown the overwhelming majority of Riga citizens opposed the demolition. He said their opinion was the main thing to guide him while working in the municipality. “Another poll may be conducted for confirmation,” he added.

    A Latvian web portal has gathered more than 11,000 signatures in favour of the memorial's demolition. According to Latvian law, an initiative that has gathered no less than 10,000 signatures of full-aged citizens of the republic is deemed a “collective statement” and is to be considered by Latvia’s parliament, the Sejm.

    In response, a counter-motion was initiated for leaving the monument intact. It has gained almost 7,500 supporters so far.

    Riga memorial is the main monument for a local Russian-speaking community comprising about 40 percent of Latvia’s population. About 200,000 people gather near the memorial every year to lay flowers and congratulate war veterans. Local nationalists have repeatedly called for demolition of the edifice, erected in the 1980s, though parliament rejected the initiative. The monument has been desecrated several times and even suffered an attempt to blow it up in 1997.

  • Sofia's Soviet Army Memorial in Ukrainian Colors

    Sofia, Bulgaria's Soviet Army memorial, which is often (and often approvingly) vandalized - the soldiers have, for example, been painted as superheroes and in honor of Pussy Riot - was painted again yesterday in the colors of the Ukrainian flag, with writing at the base saying "Slava Ukraini!" and "Ka-putin." Check this link for a short news story (in Bulgarian) and photos, as well as this link for information in English.

    UK Flag Bulgaria SA 2-22-14


    And an interesting coda from RIA Novosti - - -

    Russia Slams Euronews Over Photo of Vandalized WWII Statue

    The Soviet Army monument in Sofia

    The Soviet Army monument in Sofia


    12:00 25/02/2014

    MOSCOW, February 25 (RIA Novosti) – Euronews television channel swiftly pulled a picture of a vandalized Soviet-era military memorial from the head of its Facebook page Tuesday in the latest incident to highlight heightened Russian sensitivity over perceived disrespect for World War II monuments.

    The French-based channel, which was set up by the European Broadcasting Union, of which Russia is a member, on Monday posted the Reuters news agency photograph showing a monument of Soviet soldiers in Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, that had been illegally daubed in yellow and blue paint.

    The vandalistic act appeared to be a tribute to an anti-government uprising that last week led to the toppling of the Moscow-friendly president in Ukraine, whose national flag is composed of those colors.

    Euronews’ decision to make the photograph of the painted soldier its Facebook cover photo drew swift criticism from Russia’s Foreign Ministry, which had already appealed to Bulgarian authorities to investigate the attack on the statue.

    A Foreign Ministry statement said Euronews had “crossed a line” by using the picture.

    After hastily changing the cover photo, Euronews said in a statement that the image “was in no way an expression of support for one side or another in Ukraine, not to mention an act of vandalism.”

    The photograph simply reflected current events in the world, the channel said.

    Russia has condemned the unrest in Ukraine, describing it as the work of violent extremists intent on seizing power.

    Earlier this month, US news channel CNN was pressured into issuing a formal apology for including a Soviet war memorial in Belarus on an irreverent list of the world’s ugliest monuments.

    © Account Euronews in Facebook

    Russia Slams Euronews Over Photo of Vandalized WWII Statue

    Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the list had “defiled the memory of those who died in the war against Nazism.”

    The Soviet Union’s role in the Allied victory in World War II is heavily relied on by Russian authorities to instill a sense of pride and patriotism among the population, with ever bigger anniversary parades and ceremonies.

    Last year, parliamentary deputies considered a bill making it illegal to criticize the actions of the Red Army during World War II. Despite the fervor of sentiments aroused by the issue, the legislation was not adopted.

    In 2007, one person was killed and several more injured in riots in the Estonian capital Tallinn over plans to move a statue of a Red Army soldier from the center to a cemetery outside the city.

    The statue’s move, which many interpreted as an intended slight against the Baltic nation’s sizable ethnic Russian minority, soured diplomatic relations between the two nations for several years.

  • Hungary Postpones Erecting New WWII Monument

    • February 21, 2014 - 10:01 am
    • Hungary, New monument, WWII
    • Comments Off on Hungary Postpones Erecting New WWII Monument

    Facing widespread complaints that a proposed new WWII memorial commemorating the German occupation of Hungary in 1944 would whitewash Hungary's history of home-grown fascism, the ruling Fidesz government has decided to postpone erecting the monument until after April 6 elections. For more information, see the following news reports:





  • Spomeniks in the News

    The Guardian has a feature on Spomeniks today: the strange and impressive WWII monuments that dot the former Yugoslavia. To read the article and see the images, click here. Photographer Jan Kempenaers has an exhibition featuring this work at UCLA this spring/summer; click here for information.