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article imagePro-Western protesters topple Lenin's statue in Kiev

By Abdul Kuddus     Dec 9, 2013 in World
Kiev - The streets of Kiev in Ukraine echoed with the memories of 2004’s pro-democracy Orange Revolution. Angry protesters poured into streets Sunday, toppled and destroyed the statue of Russia’s Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin in central Kiev.
The protesters vented their anger on President Viktor Yanukovych after he shelved ties with European Union in favour of Russia.
The decapitation of Lenin’s statue reportedly has an anti-Russian sentiment because Russia was allegedly behind the derailment of the EU deal by hinting trade restrictions against Ukraine.
According to CNN, “Ukraine, the largest, most strategic and highly symbolic among Russia's neighbors, has experienced this arsenal of Russian sticks and carrots for years -- and the more massively, the closer it moved to signing its EU association and trade agreements. Faced with this choice, the Ukrainian government and society have clearly grown apart.”
The toppling of Lenin’s statue airs symbolic resonance of Ukrainians' shift to pro-Western policies. Reportedly, the protests manifest Ukraine's deep political and geographic division between those who support ties with Russia and those who would like to see their country more aligned with Western Europe.
In response to the massive protests, the government answered with force and repression. Earlier the government used brute police force to break a three-week protests that brought the capital to a standstill.
Reportedly, Yanukovych announced an inquiry into conspiracy by opposition leaders to overthrow his government and warned the protesters could face criminal charges.
As the government resorted to harsh measures against the demonstrators and reportedly arrested opposition activists, protests gained further momentum.
The protests started last month after Yanukovych shelved a long-planned treaty with the 28-nation European Union to maintain trade relations with Russia. Reportedly Ukrainians are apprehensive that the Russian-led economic alliance could end Ukraine’s sovereignty.
The protesters have also blockaded key government buildings in Kiev with cars, barricades and tents. An estimated 500,000 Ukrainians crammed into and around Kiev’s Central Square demanding removal of Yanukovych’s government.
The Globe and Mail quoted former world boxing champion and top opposition leader Vitali Klitschko who was among the protesters: “I am convinced that after these events, dictatorship will never survive in our country. People will not tolerate when they are beaten, when their mouths are shut, when their principles and values are ignored.”
The massive protests in Kiev bring back memories of 2004 Orange Revolution which unseated Yanukovych’s fraudulent presidential victory, leading to the installation of a pro-Western government in Ukraine. However, Yanukovych returned to as president in the 2010 elections.
“The protesters blocked and barricaded government offices and said they were giving Yanukovich 48 hours to disband his government before marching on his country residence near Kiev,” The Los Angeles Times reported.
A man holds a sledgehammer as he smashes a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin  which was ...
A man holds a sledgehammer as he smashes a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin, which was toppled by protesters during a rally organized by supporters of EU integration in Kiev, December 8, 2013
With permission by Reuters / Gleb Garanich
Crowds toppled a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin in the Ukrainian capital and attacked...
Crowds toppled a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin in the Ukrainian capital and attacked it with hammers on Sunday in the latest mass protests against President Viktor Yanukovich and his plans for closer ties with Russia
With permission by Reuters / Vasily Fedosenko
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