A Russian village has swapped the eternal flame in their World War II memorial for a cardboard painting of a flame due to lack of a gas pipe line, BBC reported Friday.
State-run media called the painting "either a bad joke or a silent rebuke," and noted that the ‘eternal flame’ was installed to commemorate 6,000 soldiers who were buried in mass graves during the war.
The actual flame is only lit on holidays because the memorial is not connected to a gas line, though authorities in the region have plans to install one in 2017. Russia is the world’s second-largest producer of natural gas.
"For the time being, they installed a symbolic cardboard flame," said Kremlin-run Rossiya 24. "They didn’t mean anything bad by it."
Yevgeny Maslov, the director of the regional agency for cultural heritage, promised that the flame would be lit on May 9 in order to remember the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany. He said that local authorities decided to install the cardboard and noted that taste is subjective.
"Tastes differ when it comes to questions of beautifying public spaces, the color of paint," Maslov said.
Only one-fifth of the roughly 4,000 eternal flame monuments across Russia are lit 24 hours a day, BBC reported.
Eternal flames have frequently sparked scandal in Russia, as they are often put out because of "gas debts" or vandalized, an offense that warrants five years in prison, according to the Russian news agency RIA.
In 2014, President Vladimir Putin ordered that gas be supplied to eternal flame monuments. The initiative has been met with underwhelming results.
Published under: Russia