Lenin statue toppled in Ukraine protest

Photo: Lenin statue toppled in Ukraine protest / Europe

Protesters knocked down a statue of Vladimir Lenin on Sunday as outrage mounted over the Ukrainian government's push for closer ties with Russia, CNN reported.

A crowd of cheering protesters chanted "Good job" after the statue fell in Kiev's Bessarabska Square.

Some pounded the monument with hammers, leaving pieces of the statue scattered on the ground. Only parts of the Soviet hero's legs remained at the base. A man waving a Ukrainian flag stood atop the pedestal beside them.

Police said they were investigating but did not know who had toppled the monument. Ukraine's government news agency said a lawmaker with the nationalist Svoboda party had claimed responsibility for the incident on behalf of the party.

Numerous statues of Lenin, one of the leaders of the 1917 Russian Revolution, have been removed from Kiev in previous years.

The toppling of the statue on Sunday came as 100,000 protesters took to the streets of Kiev, according to police estimates, piling more pressure on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich after he turned away from integration with Europe.

Kiev suspended talks with the European Union last month, angering many Ukrainians who say an EU agreement would have opened borders to trade and set the stage for modernization and inclusion.

The subsequent protests that have rattled the eastern European country are the biggest in Ukraine since the so-called Orange Revolution nine years ago, a populist movement that toppled the government.

Opposition leaders, who failed to force the government's resignation in a vote of confidence in parliament last week, are counting on their supporters to voice their discontent.

Demonstrators flocked to the capital's Independence Square, many camping out in freezing weather as they demanded the government's ouster as well as early presidential and parliamentary elections.

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