The familiar statue of Vladimir Lenin in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, is no longer standing. It has managed to stay erect since the 1950’s, but today, it is broken and shattered. Crowds tore and maimed it, attacking it with hammers, ropes and their bare hands in the latest mass protest against President Viktor Yanukovich’s plans for creating closer ties with Russia.
Pro-European demonstrators knocked down the statute of Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union after rival leaders told hundreds of thousands of demonstrators to “keep up pressure” on Yanukovich to sack his government.
The Telegraph called it: “the biggest show of strength against the government yet seen in two weeks of demonstrations.”
The demonstrators are furious with the Yanukovich government for abandoning a landmark pact with the European Union for a trade deal with Moscow, endangering economic stability for the former Soviet republic of 46 million people.
Yanukovich’s sudden pact with Russia has created a lot of anger and frustration with Ukrainians. And is just the tip of the iceberg that came after weeks of confrontations and protests between authorities and protesters. Russia is the enemy for the hundreds of thousands who marched in demonstration to stop Kiev from joining a new Moscow-led customs union.
“This is a decisive moment when all Ukrainians have gathered here because they do not want to live in a country where corruption rules and where there is no justice,” said world heavyweight boxing champion-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko.
The massive crowds in a Kiev square are also demanding Yanukovich’s resignation. Vitali Kitchko, who is beginning to be seen as a president in waiting, called on the crowd of at least 200,000 to maintain pressure on the government.
“The dictator will not go away himself. He must be made to leave. Therefore, we are expanding our pressure on the government and we will force Yanukovich to fulfill the demands of the people.” Kitchko told the crowd.
“We are on a razor’s edge between a final plunge into cruel dictatorship and a return home to the European community,” jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko said in an emotional message to the crowd, read out by her daughter Yevgenia.
Yanukovich and Putin, who regard Ukraine as essential to Moscow’s interests, are strongly believed to have struck a bargain in gas and credits, in exchange for backing away from the EU.
Sales worker Sviatislav Zaporozhit, 26, said: “The current authorities have been completely discredited by their actions and the police brutality. What unites everyone here is a desire to see a change of government.”
“I don’t want to go back to what my parents lived under the Soviet Union … When I am old, I want to live like people in Europe. I want to live in a normal country.”
Image via Wikimedia Commons