Tearing Down Lenin’s Statue in Kiev: Protests in Ukraine’s capital, which have grown steadily for weeks, reached new heights on Sunday when demonstrators toppled a statue of Vladimir Lenin.
KIEV, Ukraine —David M. Herszenhorn and Andrew E. Kramer report: Protesters in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, toppled the city’s main statue of Lenin on Sunday and then pounded it into chips with a sledgehammer as a crowd chanted and cheered. The destruction of the statue was a cathartic moment in the biggest day of demonstrations so far against President Viktor F. Yanukovich’s turn away from Europe.
Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians filled the streets of Kiev on Sunday, first to hear speeches and music and then to fan out and erect barricades in the district where government institutions have their headquarters.
Carrying blue-and-yellow Ukrainian and European Union flags, the teeming crowd filled Independence Square, where protests have steadily gained momentum since Mr. Yanukovich refused on Nov. 21 to sign trade and political agreements with the European Union. The square has been transformed by a vast and growing tent encampment, and demonstrators have occupied City Hall and other public buildings nearby. Thousands more people gathered in other cities across the country.
“Resignation! Resignation!” people in the Kiev crowd chanted on Sunday, demanding that Mr. Yanukovich and the government led by Prime Minister Mykola Azarov leave office.
With the police nowhere to be seen in the city center, protesters in Bessarabia Square toppled the Lenin statue using steel cables and cranks as a crowd gathered to watch. “People were waiting for this for decades,” said one man in the crowd, Leon Belokur. “Now it’s happened.”