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Ukraine sees largest anti-government protest since 2004

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 8, 2013 at 11:15 a.m.


Pro-European Union activists gather during a rally in the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. Over 200,000 angry Ukrainians occupied a central Kiev square on Sunday, to denounce President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to turn away from Europe and align this ex-Soviet republic with Russia, as massive protests continued for a third week. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

KIEV — Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians rallied Sunday in Kiev, denouncing President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to turn away from Europe and move toward Russia. It was the country's biggest protest since its pro-democracy Orange Revolution in 2004.

The sea of angry people who flooded across the Ukrainian capital raised the stakes in a tense political standoff gripping this ex-Soviet republic.

"Ukraine is tired of Yanukovych, we need new rules, we need to completely change those in power," said protester Kostyantyn Meselyuk, 42. "Europe can help us."

As darkness fell, the conflict escalated further with protesters blockading key government buildings in Kiev with cars, barricades and tents. The state security service, meanwhile, announced an investigation into opposition leaders on suspicion of attempting to seize power.

The protests have had an anti-Russian component since Russia had worked aggressively to derail the EU deal with threats of trade retaliation against Ukraine.

About a mile from the main square, one group of anti-government protesters toppled the city's landmark statue of Russian Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin and decapitated it Sunday evening.

Read more in Monday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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