The monument to the Soviet Army that was erected in memory of victory over Nazism is being dismantled in the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia.
Bulgarian National Television (BNT) noted that workers cut off the tallest part of the sculpture — the hand of a soldier holding a PPSh submachine gun.
It was also said that the bronze sculptures would be handed over for restoration.
Large corrosion cracks up to five centimetres deep formed in the monument as moisture had been seeping through the concrete base of the figures for decades, Sofia officials said.
Representatives for the Sofia authorities earlier promised that the bronze sculpture of the monument would be exhibited at the Museum of Socialist Art.
Russian Foreign Ministry representative Maria Zakharova said that the sculptural composition had long been a hostage to local political games and personal ambitions of individual representatives of the Bulgarian establishment. In addition, Sofia ignored Moscow's persistent proposals to hold consultations on the future fate of the monument, Zakharova added.
"We consider the destruction of the monument to our common, I am stressing this out, past as another hostile step that Sofia is taking to aggravate the already stalemate situation on the bilateral track,” Zakharova said. "The barbaric actions taken by the Bulgarian side can not be either justified or forgiven."
"Bulgaria is choosing the wrong side of history yet again," Maria Zakharova said.
Bulgaria is turning towards the rehabilitation of Nazism in the context of the galloping growth of neo-Nazi sentiments in Europe, she added.
Dozens of people holding Bulgarian and Russian flags took to the streets to express their protest against the demolition of the monument to Soviet soldiers. The protesters were chanting:
"NATO Out!” and "Glory to Ukraine as part of Russia!”
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