Activists challenge Red Army monument in Banská Bystrica

Romanians, not Russians, did much of the wartime fighting around the town.

The Black Obelisk in Banská BystricaThe Black Obelisk in Banská Bystrica (Source: Ján Krošlák, SME)

A Red Army monument known as the Black Obelisk, located in Banská Bystrica, a city in central Slovakia, is a symbol of Russian propaganda, says a local activist.

Bearing the hammer and sickle emblem of the Soviet Union, the memorial is dedicated to the soldiers of the Red Army who helped liberate Slovakia from its wartime fascist regime. But "Nie V Našom Meste" (Not In Our Town) activist Andrej Čierny says it can more accuratly be regarded as a tool of Soviet – and now Russian – state propaganda, the My Bystrica website writes.

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“In 1945, a large portion of central Slovakia and the areas around Banská Bystrica and Zvolen were liberated from the German army mainly by the forces of the Romanian Royal Army. They were fighting jointly with the Red Army; however, the Romanians were the ones who liberated the territory south of Low Tatras,” says Čierny.

According to him, the 78-year-old monument, which dominates the mediaeval centre of Banská Bystrica, elides and mutilates the historical message of liberation from fascism. Čierny cites an expert analysis by The Institute of Military History (VHÚ) to support his views.

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