The incredible emotional power of World War II in Russia would probably surprise many in the United States or Western Europe, and Vladimir Putin appears to have recently been using that emotional power in a bid to enhance his government's legitimacy. Both the success of Ukraine's protesters and their enthusiastic destruction of statues of Lenin are big questions for that legitimacy, of course.
The statue-related outrage isn't limited to Ukraine though. A Soviet-era monument in Sofia, Bulgaria, was the site of anger earlier this week after the Euronews television channel posted the above picture to its Facebook page. The problem? The statue had been painted yellow and blue, the colors of the Ukrainian flag. According to Ria Novosti, Euronews swiftly deleted the image after a complaint from Russia and apologized. The Russian Foreign Ministry has also asked Bulgaria to “take all necessary measures to prevent mockeries of the memory of Soviet soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of Bulgaria and Europe from Nazism," according to the Itar-Tass news agency.
As the picture below shows, this monument has something of a colorful history: