Protesters topple Lenin monument in Kiev, smash to pieces with hammers (PHOTOS)
Published time: December 08, 2013 20:42
Edited time: December 09, 2013 12:23
Edited time: December 09, 2013 12:23
Masked anti-government protesters toppled the monument to Vladimir Lenin in Kiev on Sunday pulling him down with steel ropes, and smashing the granite figure with sledgehammers. A huge crowd queued to get a piece of the statue.
Follow RT's LIVE UPDATES on protests in Kiev.
A group of protesters singing the national hymn of Ukraine then hoisted the national flag on the vacant pedestal, as the passing cars were honking in support of the act and jubilant cries were heard from the crowd.
The activists shouted “[President Viktor] Yanukovich, you’ll be next!” while lighting flares and throwing smoke bombs next to the monument, Ukrainian media reported. Security forces were absent from the scene at Shevchenko Boulevard.
Local clerics also came to the scene “to smash Lenin,” RT’s Lida Vasilevskaya reported from the scene.
Huge crowds gather for pro-EU rally in Ukrainian capital
Ukraine’s protesters are out on what could become the biggest rally since 2004 and the Orange Revolution. Organizers have dubbed the anti-government, pro-EU event “The March of Millions” in the hope it can attract as many as 1 million participants.
Follow RT's LIVE UPDATES on protests in Kiev.
Nearly 50,000 protesters have gathered on Kiev’s Independence Square (Maidan) and in nearby streets, according to police estimates. However, the opposition has claimed nearly 1 million people are taking part in the rally, and has called on a group of 30,000 demonstrators to move from Maidain toward the government buildings and “set up camp there.”
The demonstrators are protesting the Ukrainian leadership’s decision to withdraw from the EU association agreement last month. Opposition leaders demand that the current government steps down and are calling for immediate elections.
Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for abuse of office, has called on the pro-EU rally participants not to negotiate with the government.
“Don’t give up, don’t take a single step back, don’t have negotiations with the authorities,” Tymoshenko said in a statement, which was read out to the rally participants by her daughter Yevgenia. “Our goal is Yanukoych’s immediate removal from his presidential office.”
Several thousand supporters of the ruling Party of Regions have meanwhile gathered for a pro-government rally in Kiev’s Mariinsky Park, near the parliament (Verkhovna Rada). The organizers of the demonstration, called under the slogan, “Let’s create Europe in Ukraine,” claim it has attracted 15,000 participants.
The pro-government rally organizers are calling for the peaceful resolution of the political crisis, and they condemn the opposition for what they see as an attempt to destabilize the situation in the country and to split Ukrainian society.
On Friday, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich paid a short official visit to Russia for brief talks in Sochi with Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin. The two presidents discussed "trade and economic cooperation... and preparation for the future treaty on strategic partnership," according to the Ukrainian president’s office.
Later, Russian and Ukrainian officials said that the presidents didn't speak about Kiev joining the Moscow-led Customs Union. Earlier, media had reported the contrary.
On Saturday, a delegation of members of the European Parliament arrived in Ukraine to meet with opposition leaders and address the crowd in the streets of Kiev, spurring on the protest.
Russia accused Western nations of aggressively interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation by supporting the protests.
“Excuse me, but taking part in such actions is called simply interference in internal affairs,” Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev said about the visit this week by German FM Guido Westerwelle to protests in Kiev.
“I wonder how our German partners would feel if, for instance, the Russian Foreign Minister just went to some gathering that was violating German regulations. I doubt they would take it as a friendly step,”Medvedev said.
The participation of EU politicians in Ukrainian rallies is a gesture of despair, argues Moscow-based political analyst Dmitry Babich.
“Since 2008, when the program of eastern partnership was launched, the EU has spent 2.5 billion euro on it,” Babich told RT. “And what was the result? This money, instead of being spent on the unemployed in Spain, the poor people in Greece, it was spent on telling Ukrainians how nice the EU is and how bad Russia is. This is why now the EU is desperately trying to make a semblance of activity.”
A week ago, several hundred thousand people took to the streets, angered over the violent police crackdown on anti-government protesters who occupied Kiev’s Independence Square the day before.
Thai PM agrees to early elections referendum as protest leader prepares ‘final blow’ to topple govt
Published time: December 08, 2013 12:58
Thailand’s prime minister has announced that early elections demanded by the opposition will be held if a majority of people vote for them in a national referendum. Opposition MPs claim they’re ready to resign en masse immediately.
PM Yingluck Shinawatra appeared on national TV with a proposal to dismiss the House of Representatives and call early elections within 60 days as required by the constitution – if the people vote for elections first.
“I would like to confirm once again that I am not clinging to my position. I am willing to dissolve the House or resign if I am convinced that it would really be a way out to solve the problems and enable the country to go forward. That is to say, the decision must be truly made by the majority of the people,” said Shinawatra, who became prime minister in 2011.
Her address aired on Thai television after Shinawatra, 46, held consultations with members of the government.
She warned that in case the opposition does not like the proposal, or would not agree with the results of the democratic elections, the crisis would only be prolong as it was in 2006, when political chaos in the country ended up with a military coup.
Shinawatra said the opposition’s demands for her ouster were unprecedented and possibly illegal.
“To have a government without an election is a big issue which can affect the image and confidence of the country. If this proposal is to be put into practice, the people should be asked whether it is acceptable to them. Therefore, a public referendum is required and this method is allowed by the constitution,” the PM announced, stressing that the government would consider protesters’ proposals on Monday December 9, to find a way out of the political deadlock.
“I’m willing to listen to proposals from the protesters. I’m not addicted to this title,” Shinawatra said. "I'm ready to resign and dissolve parliament if that is what majority of the Thai people want.”
“Today, nobody is a loser. All of us, including the nation, are winners," she said.
In the meantime, anti-government protests in the Thai capital continue as the leaders of the opposition People's Democratic Reform Committee are calling on the PM to resign.
The protesters who for weeks have been occupying the center of Bangkok and clashing with police are calling Yingluck Shinawatra a puppet of her brother, former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, and are rallying in an effort to oust her.
The leader of the anti-government protesters, former Deputy PM Suthep Thaugsuban, has called on opposition activists to converge on Bangkok on Monday to carry out the “final blow” against the government, with a mass rally near Government House to force Yingluck Shinawatra from power.
The government is getting ready for the demonstration, enforcing the security of key governmental facilities in Bangkok with hundreds of police officers.
On Saturday, National Security Council secretary-general Paradorn Pattanatabut warned the public that the Internal Security Act enables the government to impose a curfew and set up police roadblocks if demonstrators become violent.
The ongoing protests in Thailand are only the latest chapter in nearly a decade of bitter political rivalry between the Bangkok-based establishment and supporters of the self-exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He fled the country in 2008, but remained an influential figure in the country’s political life.
Over the last several years, Thaksin Shinawatra, a billionaire and former telecommunications tycoon, and now his sister Yingluck have gained large electoral support from people in Thailand’s countryside for their populist policies.