Pro-EU Ukrainian protesters on Sunday toppled a statue of the Soviet Union's founder Vladimir Lenin in Kiev after hundreds of thousands massed for a new protest in an increasingly tense standoff with President Viktor Yanukovych's government. The protesters had filled Independence Square in central Kiev and surrounding streets to bursting point to denounce Yanukovych's rejection of an EU pact under Kremlin pressure, in the biggest protests since the 2004 Orange Revolution. In a hugely symbolic denouement to the rally, dozens of masked protesters tore down the 3.4 metre (11 feet) high statue of the Bolshevik leader after putting a rope noose round Lenin's neck, an AFP correspondent said. Parts of the statue were afterwards triumphantly brandished at the main demonstration on Independence Square.
By Alissa de Carbonnel and Pavel Polityuk KIEV (Reuters) - Crowds toppled a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin in the Ukrainian capital and attacked it with hammers on Sunday in the latest mass protests against President Viktor Yanukovich and his plans for closer ties with Russia. The statue's felling - a symbolic rejection of Moscow's power - came after opposition leaders told hundreds of thousands of demonstrators to keep up pressure on Yanukovich to sack his government. A Reuters reporter at the scene saw the protesters breaking up the statue with hammers after using ropes and metal bars to bring it crashing down. The demonstrators are furious with the Yanukovich government for its decision to ditch a landmark pact with the European Union in favor of a trade deal with Moscow, Ukraine's Soviet-era overlord.
DAMASCUS (AP) — Syrian Christians offered prayers Sunday for a group of more than a dozen nuns and orphanage workers held by rebels for nearly a week, fueling fears in the minority community that they are being targeted by extremists among the fighters seeking to oust President Bashar Assad.