WARSAW, Poland — Police were searching on Wednesday for a vandal who damaged a bronze statue of Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II in the Polish city of Gdansk by cutting off one arm of the former U.S. president’s likeness and stealing it.
The statue was unveiled just last year to honor Reagan and the Polish-born pope, who were both widely credited with helping Poland topple communism 24 years ago.
The vandalism in the Baltic port city was discovered on Tuesday, setting off the search for the perpetrator, said Lucyna Rykowska, a spokeswoman for Gdansk police.
The statue was inspired by an Associated Press photograph taken by Scott Stewart during the pope’s second visit to the United States in 1987, and it honors Reagan’s support for Poland’s struggle to end decades of communism.
People interviewed by Poland’s TVN24 deplored the vandalism and stressed the popularity of the statue in the park where it is located, saying visitors often leave flowers there.
On July 17, 2007, Polish President Lech Kaczynski presented his nation’s highest distinction, the Order of the White Eagle, to Nancy Reagan on behalf of her late husband.
Poland also has a statute of Reagan in Warsaw, and a roundabout in the city of Wroclaw has been named after him.