Chisinau came under Soviet control on June 28, 1940, with the annexation of the previously Romanian-held regions of Bessarabia and Bukovina and the subsequent formation of the Moldavian SSR. On November 10, 1940, the city suffered significant damage from a 7.4-magnitude earthquake that had its epicentre at Vrancea, about 150 miles to the southwest. Further damage was inflicted by German air raids in the first days of Operation Barbarossa, and the city was captured on July 17 by the German 50th and 72nd Divisions and the Romanian 1st Armoured Division.
The Red Army’s first attempt at retaking the region was launched in the Spring of 1944, but made little progress against strong German defences. The second Jassy-Kishinev Offensive (Kishinev is the Russian name for Chisinau) was launched by the 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts on August 20, 1944. This time, the defensive lines were quickly breached, and on August 23, a coup d’etat led by King Michael deposed the Romanian administration led by Marshal Antonescu, leading to the country’s defection from the Axis and opening the way for Soviet attacks into the Balkans. Chisinau was retaken by 5th Shock Army on August 24 and was reinstalled as the capital of the Moldavian SSR.
The monument was built by the architect Vladimir Naumov and the sculptor Lazar Dubinovskiy and replaces an earlier version, featuring a soldier holding a PPSh submachine gun aloft, similar to the Liberation Memorial in Kharkov. The Chisinau memorial, however, quickly developed cracks and collapsed in 1968. The replacement bronze statue features a soldier holding a sword and a representation of the goddess of victory. It stands on a small square in front of the Chisinau Hotel and the Moldovan Academy of Sciences, at the intersection of Constantin Negruzzi Boulevard and Ciuflea Street. Apologies for the poor quality of my photos, it was dusk on a cloudy day when I visited.