- Protesters in Ukraine knock down statue of Lenin
- Authorities warn of further crackdown on protesters in Ukraine
- Protests continue in Ukraine despite crackdown
- Unrest continues in Ukraine as protesters block government offices
Protesters toppled a monument to Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin on Sunday during the biggest march and rally in central Kiev since President Viktor Yanukovich galvanized his opposition by turning down a trade deal with the European Union. The Ukrainian protesters blocked and barricaded government offices and said they were giving Yanukovich 48 hours to disband his government before they would march on his country residence near Kiev. In turning down the trade deal with the EU, Yanukovich was effectively asserting that Russia remained Ukraine's key trade partner. The country is politically and geographically divided, to some extent, between those who favor ties to Russia and those who would like to see Ukraine more aligned with Western Europe. That gave the toppling of the Lenin statue particular significance — despite the fact that most Lenin statues in Russia itself were torn down during the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Statues of the Soviet leader were once ubiquitous throughout the East bloc. No police officers could be seen anywhere in the vicinity of Taras Shevchenko boulevard where the granite and marble monument was brought down by a group of young protesters. “It is amazing how the authorities allowed Lenin to go down!” said Sergei Andriyenko, a 51-year-old Kiev businessman who applauded the action. “Where were the police, where were the communists who were always protecting him?”
Ukrainian police on Thursday warned pro-Europe protesters they faced a "harsh" crackdown if they did not end their occupation of public offices in Kiev, while President Viktor Yanukovich's prime minister denounced them as "Nazis and criminals". The authorities issued the tough warnings as foreign ministers held a European security conference in a city seething with unrest over the Ukrainian government's U-turn away from Europe back towards Russia. [...] A court ordered the protesters on Thursday to quit the Kiev mayor's office, where they have set up an operational hub, and halt their four-day blockade of government buildings. In perhaps the strongest signal yet that the authorities are contemplating action to reclaim the streets, the head of the Kiev police, Valery Mazan, said: "We do not want to use force. But if the law is broken, we will act decisively, harshly. "We will not try to talk people round. We have the means and capability laid down by the law," he added.
The demonstrators who have laid siege to public buildings in this rattled capital expanded their protest overnight, blockading the central bank on Wednesday and setting up tents and lighting bonfires on the sidewalk outside. Protest leaders had vowed to surround additional government buildings after the Ukrainian Parliament on Tuesday defeated a measure calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his government.
The failure of the no-confidence vote pushed the battle for the future of Ukraine back onto the streets, where protests began over the weekend. Demonstrators allied with opposition leaders said they would not relent until they succeed in removing the government, including President Viktor F. Yanukovich.
But the protesters’ overnight goal of blockading the presidential administration building had not been accomplished by Wednesday morning. They did advance their sphere of control about 500 yards up a side street leading to Independence Square, which they have occupied, and erected a barricade near one entrance to the administration building.
Protesters in Ukraine ramped up activities Monday as they blocked entrances to government offices, blocked streets, and have called for a nationwide strike. The actions follow a weekend of protests, triggered by the Ukranian president’s refusal to sign an association agreement with the European Union. From...
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