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SOFIA (Reuters) - Vandals have again daubed with graffiti a monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia, which has long been a focus of disputes between Bulgarians who want it demolished and those who treasure it as a symbol of communism or the country's historic ties with Russia.

On the 69th anniversary of the decision by Bulgaria's then-communist government to erect the sculpture, the vandals wrote "Sofia Municipality, remove this national disgrace!" and also sprayed in red the monument's inscription "To the liberator Soviet Army from the grateful Bulgarian people".

Bulgaria fought on Nazi Germany's side in World War Two but then became a loyal Soviet satellite until the fall of communism in 1989.

In the post-communist era the 37-metre high monument, which depicts nine Soviet soldiers advancing against the enemy, has often been targeted by vandals.

In 2011, the soldiers were painted as American superheroes, prompting an official protest by the Russian embassy in Sofia. A year later, they were clothed in brightly covered balaclavas, similar to those worn by members of anti-Kremlin Russian punk band Pussy Riot.

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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Reuters