Byala Slatina
Mitch Brezounek
40 sec
0.048 ETH


It is without counting

the number of liters of alcohol

needed to fly away in an iron bird.

May the loyal tin soldier, so heavy,

crash like an empty bottle

where the propeller will bear his name.

Mitch Brezounek


The monument near Byala Slatina is called “The Propeller”, because it represents an aircraft propeller 21 meters high. It was created in 1975 in the Park of Bulgarian-Soviet friendship to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Soviet victory in World War Two.

A wall with bronze reliefs surrounds the monument, 4 meters high. It originally depicted hands extending to the sky, but today they are gone. The creators were the sculptor Dimitar Boykov and the architect Rositza Grancharova.

The monument is dedicated to the five Soviet aviators who perished during a crash on September 26, 1944. They were initially buried near the village of Duchanzi and relocated to Byala Slatina in 1945. The remains of the pilots were moved under the monument on May 3, 1978. In 1991, the bones of the buried soldiers were dispersed around the Propeller.

In 2016, all remnants from Soviet aviators were reassembled and reburied in a metal sarcophagus near the monument. A new sign was inscribed there: GLORY TO THE HEROES

On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the victory in World War Two, Putin announced a program for the reconstruction of Soviet monuments abroad. The Russian Embassy in Sofia sponsored the reconstruction only of 6 monuments in Bulgaria, one of them the Propeller.


There is controversy concerning the monument. In the nearby village of Bardarski Geran, there is another monument, also dedicated to Red Army aviators. These two monuments – and the accidents behind them – are usually confounded. This is the story behind those who died near Bardarski Geran.

According to witnesses, including one survivor: After the Soviet occupation in 1944, a small group of Soviet aviators was stationed in the village. One night in October 1944, following a big drinking party, five aviators decided to fly to Berlin to fight in what was the last battle against Hitler. The plane crashed in a small forest nearby. Only one aviator survived, and he was sentenced and sent to a camp in Siberia for causing damages during wartime.

Years later, a local village school teacher discovered him in the USSR and invited him to visit the village in 1978, and so he came and told the whole story to the local community.

To this day, annual celebrations of Victory Day, May 9, happen in front of the monument of the Soviet aviators in Bardarski Geran, and not at the monument in Byala Slatina!

On May 9, 2021, according to Vratza Dnes, Russian diplomats visited the monument of the aviators in Bardarski Geran to celebrate the Victory Day escorted by the Bulgarian branch of the “Night Wolves” [NB: Night Wolves is an extremist Russian biker’s group close to Putin, sponsored by the Russian state]. Representatives of the Russophile Movement and members of the Co-Patriots Russian Club in Vratza joined them.

The guests were greeted by the mayors of the district of Byala Slatina, Ivo Tzvetkov, and the mayor of the village of Bardarski Geran, Plamen Petkov. Maria Bonova, a specialist in the mayor’s office, gave a speech about the heroic act of the Soviet aviators. Flowers were laid at the monument.

More Controversy

A group of pensioners from the village of Anton organized an investigation in 2016 to find out the true story behind the two monuments. They concluded that the two accidents in which Soviet aviators died are two different cases: one an accident caused by bad weather conditions (Anton, Duchanzi), and the second (Bardarski Geran) caused by negligence.

Yet another story confirms the confusion about the monuments: Between the villages of Anton and Duchanzi, on Orman Bach hill, there is a tomb, a memorial site with a big stone in the memory of five Soviet aviators from the 681 Bombard Regiment.

On September 28, 2021, according to, during the celebration of the 77th anniversary of the death of the five Soviet aviators, the mayor of Duchanzi, Zlatka Kaneva, gave a speech. The Russian Minister Plenipontiary Filip Voskresenski’s greeting address was read. Three representatives from the Russian Embassy were present, along with the mayor of Pirdop, Angel Gerov, as well as members of the local Russophile movement.

Author of the historical text: Evelina Kelbecheva