The Russian foreign ministry is "deeply indignant" that a monument to "Soviet liberator" soldiers in Bulgaria has been painted upon by persons unknown, and has called on the Bulgarian government to take measures to prevent such incidents in the future, reports ITAR-Tass.
This most recent incident, which took place in the Bulgarian town of Lozenets, was only the latest in a string of episodes in which unknown artists have creatively painted Soviet memorials in acts of civil disobedience.
In 2011, the figures on a monument in Sofia were painted to look like Ronald McDonald, Santa Claus, and various figures from the DC and Marvel comic book universes. The words "moving with the times" were written on the base.
In 2013, the same statue was painted bright pink in commemoration of the 1968 Soviet-led invasion that crushed the Prague Spring democracy movement, and the words "Prague 68" and "Bulgaria Apologizes" were written on the base. (Bulgaria, as a member of the Warsaw Pact, had sent troops.)
Earlier this year, figures on a memorial were painted in the colors of the Polish and Ukrainian flags. The words "Putin go home!" "Crimea 2014" and "Katyn 5.03.1940" were written on the base, references to the Russian annexation of Crimea in March of this year, and the 1940 Katyn massacre, in which Soviet forces massacred approximately 22,000 Polish military officers and other Polish prisoners, then buried them in mass graves in the Katyn forest.
Although anyone who is not trained in art criticism should obviously hesitate to dissect the subtle message conveyed by decorating a Soviet figure to look like Ronald McDonald, it seems clear that these mysterious painters are drawing a connection between 20th Century Soviet imperialism and perceived Russian imperialism today.
And Russia, by insisting that Soviet soldiers were "liberators," has only managed to suggest that the painters have a point.