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Ukrainian protesters knock down Lenin statue

Updated: 2013-12-09 PM 2:44:10 (KST)
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In a highly symbolic development, protestors in the Ukrainian capital have knocked down a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin.
Once the monument fell to the ground, demonstrators decapitated it and attacked it with hammers.
Hundreds of thousands had gathered in Kiev Sunday for the protest, dubbed the "March of the Million" to express their anger towards President Viktor Yanukovich and to pressure him to reject plans for closer ties with Russia.
Protestors waved the flags of Ukraine and the European Union, as they continued to protest at Kiev's Independence Square, while others tried to block access to the presidential building.

The protests, now into week three, were sparked by the government's last minute decision to suspend plans to sign an integration pact with the European Union, which the opposition says was the result of Russian pressure.
President Yanukovich had said the country was not ready for such move, and that the deal would have been too costly for the Ukrainian economy.

Sunday's protests were further fueled by a meeting between President Yanukovich and Russian President Vladimir Putin last Friday.
The opposition claims the meeting took place as part of preparations to join a customs union led by Moscow.

Meanwhile, the European Commission says EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will visit Kiev in the coming days to try and find a way of defusing the crisis.
Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.

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