In the wake of his dramatic U-turn away from the European Union, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich is facing enormous anti-government protests in the capital and beyond.
Reports say that the protest in Kiev alone may have included as many as a million people.
On Monday pro-European Union protesters in Kiev reported that heavily armed riot police had stormed their party office. The protestors are calling for early elections and the resignation of the entire government after the Ukrainian president opted for closer ties with Russia, refusing a deal with the European Union.
While the protestors initially called for Ukraine to accede to the EU, their demands now include the resignation of Yanukovich and his cabinet of ministers, in addition to the criminal prosecution of police officers responsible for the violent crackdown.
A statue of Vladimir Lenin was toppled by the growing crowd on Sunday, prompting anger from members of the Communist party.
“Destroying the Lenin monument in Kiev is not just an act of vandalism,” party leader Petro Symonenko said. “It is a sign that organizers of the protests are not for the European values, but rather for hate, fear and destruction of the state of Ukraine.”
American actor George Clooney was among those lending his support to the protestors. “We here in the United States have great affinity for those seeking democracy,” Clooney said in a video posted online. “We learned through trial and error that true democracy cannot exist without a free and fair and honest election. Let me just say this to all of you in the square in Kiev or all around Ukraine: When you look to the West, know that we are looking back at you with great admiration.”