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SOFIA (Reuters) - A Soviet Army monument in Sofia was painted pink in an "artistic apology" for Bulgaria's support of Soviet troops which crushed Czechoslovakia's Prague Spring uprising against its Communist rulers on its 45th anniversary.
Echoing earlier protests against Soviet rule, unknown artists painted the sculpture, depicting nine soldiers to commemorate the Red Army advance during World War Two, overnight and wrote "Bulgaria apologizes" in Bulgarian and in Czech.
The color was in apparent homage to Czech artist David Cerny, who with his friends in 1991, painted a Monument of Soviet Tank Crews, a Second World War memorial in central Prague, pink.
Cerny was arrested and the tank was repainted. But deputies painted the tank pink again. It is now in a military museum.
Bulgaria, once Moscow's most obedient satellite, took part in the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia that smashed the Prague Spring movement on August 20, 1968. Poland and Hungary also took part.
The monument has been at the center of disputes between Russophiles and anti-communists in Bulgaria, who argue it should have been demolished after the collapse of Communist rule in 1989.
In 2011, the soldiers were painted as Superman, Captain America and Ronald McDonald, prompting an official protest by the Russian embassy in Sofia.
A year later, the soldiers were clothed in brightly covered balaclavas, similar to those worn by members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot.
(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova, editing by Elizabeth Piper)