** (Reuters) - Anti-government protesters toppled a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin in Ukraine's capital and attacked it with hammers on Sunday in a symbolic challenge to President Viktor Yanukovich and his plans for closer ties with Russia.**
The gesture rejecting Moscow's historic influence over Ukraine came after opposition leaders told hundreds of thousands of demonstrators on Kiev's Independence Square to keep up pressure on Yanukovich to sack his government.
The protesters are furious that the government decided last month to ditch a landmark pact with the European Union in favour of closer economic cooperation with Moscow, Ukraine's Soviet-era overlord.
Yanukovich's sudden tack towards Russia has provoked the biggest street protests since the 2004-5 Orange Revolution, when people power forced a re-run of a fraud-tainted election and thwarted his first run for the presidency.
**"Yanukovich, you are next!" read a poster stuck on the plinth where the red granite statue of Lenin had stood. People hacked off chunks of the prostrate - and now headless - leader of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution to take home as souvenirs...
Ukraine's opposition accuses Yanukovich, who met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, of preparing to take the country into a Moscow-led customs union, which they see as an attempt to recreate the Soviet Union**.
The Lenin Statue stood in the centre of Kiev - well until the protestors toppled it today: