A plaque commemorating Carl Mannerheim in the Russian city of St. Petersburg has been splashed with red paint, highlighting the controversy over the Finnish soldier and statesman who served in the Imperial Russian Army but later led troops against the Soviet Union.

The plaque was vandalized shortly after being unveiled by high-level Kremlin officials this month and remains covered with black plastic.

It was intended to commemorate Mannerheim's service in the Imperial Army. But after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and Finland's declaration of independence, he took over command of Finnish troops and led Finland against the Soviet Union during World War II. In 1944, as Finland's president, he withdrew his country from the war.