Russia to Bulgarians: Stop Repainting Soviet-Era Monuments to Look Like Ronald McDonald

How It Works
Aug. 21 2014 4:31 PM

Russia to Bulgarians: Stop Repainting Soviet-Era Monuments to Look Like Ronald McDonald

superheros
The monument after some minor retouching in 2011.

Wikimedia Commons

It’s hard to be a Soviet monument these days. The Moscow Times reports that the Russian embassy in Sofia has asked the Bulgarian government to take better care of Soviet-era war monuments, particularly the monument to the Red Army seen above, which has, at various points in recent years, been defaced to make the figures look like American superheroes (and Ronald McDonald), doused in pink, and painted the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

Meanwhile, back in Russia, a group of people apparently climbed to the roof of a Stalin-era skyscraper Wednesday morning to paint a Soviet star the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag.

Advertisement

In Russia, many of the statues and monuments of the Soviet period are still in place. Formerly communist countries in Eastern Europe have been more diligent about removing the Lenins and Stalins from their streets. Soviet-era World War II memorials, though, have been left in place in many cities.

The godfather of Soviet war memorial defacement is onetime enfant (but still terrible) David Cerny. The Czech artist first made a name for himself in the early 1990s by painting the Monument to Soviet Tank Crews—an actual tank on a pedestal in a Prague square—bright pink. The pink tank became a symbol of the country casting off the vestiges of communism following the Velvet Revolution, though Cerny says he did it mainly to impress a girl.

These statues can sometimes become major political flash points. When the Estonian government decided to remove a controversial Soviet war memorial from Tallinn in 2007, it provoked riots as well the largest coordinated cyber-attack in history, which crippled the infrastructure of one of Europe’s most wired countries for days. The attacks emanated from Russia, and there have been various claims of responsibility, but the Kremlin has always denied involvement.

A warning, then, to the Bulgarians: The Red Army may be gone, but tamper with their monuments at your own risk.

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The Feds Have Declared War on Encryption—and the New Privacy Measures From Apple and Google

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You

It spreads slowly.

These “Dark” Lego Masterpieces Are Delightful and Evocative

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Activists Are Trying to Save an Iranian Woman Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?