Monday, December 9, 2013

As Ukraine Opposition Rallies Intensify, Lenin Statue Falls

Several hundred thousand people gathered in the Ukrainian capital Sunday for one of the largest protest rallies in the former Soviet nation’s history, throwing down the gauntlet to a government that has resisted calls for negotiation with the opposition. In an incident that may spark criminal investigations and cast a shadow over the generally pacific events, however, a group of nationalists ripped down a statue of Soviet revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin. The mass assembly in Kiev was the biggest to date since the government last month pulled out of preparations to sign landmark political and trade deals with the EU, sparking widespread indignation across Ukraine. In an indication that the standoff has provoked international concern, the European Commission announced Sunday that EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton will travel to Kiev next week to assist in seeking a way out of the political impasse. Authorities have so far displayed little desire to compromise with the opposition, and have instead limited themselves to issuing ominous warnings that demonstrations could tip over into unrest.

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