Ukrainian Anti-Government Protesters Topple Statue Of Lenin

Ukrainian protesters tore down a statue of communist icon Vladimir Lenin in a symbolic rejection of Russian influence.

Ukrainian Anti-Government Protesters Topple Statue Of Lenin
Kyiv Post / Pavlo Podufalov

In a symbolic rejection of Russian influence, anti-government protesters in the Ukraine toppled a statue of Russian communist icon Vladimir Lenin.

(Cheering) (Via RT)

The statue has stood in downtown Kiev since 1946, when the country was still part of the USSR. Protesters pulled the statue off its pedestal with steel cables and smashed it with sledgehammers. (Via ITV)

The demonstrators are angry at Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych's recent pivot toward Russia. Last month his government spurned a popular trade deal with the EU after facing economic pressure from Moscow. (Via Euronews)

That rejection triggered weeks of anti-government protests in Kiev. Supporters of the trade deal accused Yanukovych of trading European democracy for Russian totalitarianism.

Earlier in the day hundreds of thousands packed Independence Square to demand the resignations government officials. It's the biggest protest the country has seen since the Orange Revolution of 2004. (Via BBC)

At the rally, opposition leader and presumed presidential candidate Vitaly Klitschko encouraged protesters to continue fighting for European values.

"You are taking a stand for your future. Not for me, or for any other representatives of the opposition. The future depends on each of you. We must group together and do everything in our power to win." (Via Al Jazeera)

But the ruling Communist Party struck back at the demonstrators Sunday, calling the destruction of the statue of Lenin "a sign that organizers of the protests are not for the European values, but rather for hate, fear and destruction of the state of Ukraine." (Via CNN)

Opposition leaders have threatened to march on Yanukovych's presidential palace if he doesn't oust the current government within two days.