Angry anti-government protesters in Ukraine toppled a statue of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin in the centre of Kyiv on Sunday and blockaded key government buildings amid huge street protests, raising the stakes in an escalating standoff with President Viktor Yanukovych.
The biggest protest in the former Soviet republic since Ukraine’s pro-democracy Orange Revolution in 2004 led the government to fire back. It announced an investigation of opposition leaders for an alleged attempt to seize power and warned the demonstrators they could face criminal charges.
The West pressed for a peaceful settlement.
Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians flooded the centre of Kyiv, the capital, to demand Yanukovych’s ouster after he ditched ties with the European Union in favour of Russia and sent police to break up an earlier protest in the nearly three-week standoff.