**Ukraine’s capital Kiev gripped by huge pro-EU demonstration
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in the Ukrainian capital Kiev seeking the resignation of the government for refusing a deal on closer ties with the European Union.
Protesters, who oppose a customs union with Russia, toppled a statue of Lenin and smashed it with hammers.**
President Viktor Yanukovych has said he shelved the EU deal after Russian opposition.
Protest leaders have given him 48 hours to dismiss the government.
As darkness fell, protesters were blockading key government buildings with cars, barricades and tents.
**Witnesses said a group of protesters toppled the statue of Soviet leader Lenin at the top of Shevchenko Boulevard using metal bars and ropes. Then they began smashing it up with hammers.
Others stood by chanting “glory to Ukraine”.
Correspondents say the statue has symbolic importance as it underlines Ukraine’s shared history with Russia.
One opposition MP, Andriy Shevchenko, tweeted: “Goodbye, Communist legacy!”**
Prime Minister Mykola Azarov compared the toppling of the statue to the Taliban’s destruction of the giant Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan in 2001, Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported.
“War on monuments is always barbarity,” he said.
The BBC’s David Stern says the attack on the statue has heightened tension in Kiev.
‘A razor’s edge’
In another development on Sunday, the Ukrainian Security Service said it was investigating some politicians on suspicion of what it called “actions aimed at seizing state power”.
It did not name the politicians.
The European Commission has said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will travel to Ukraine this week “to support a way out of the political crisis”.
The opposition party of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has urged people to “chase” the president “until he falls”.
“We are on a razor’s edge between a final plunge into cruel dictatorship and a return home to the European community,” Mrs Tymoshenko said in a message to the crowd read out by her daughter.
“Don’t give in, not a step back, don’t give up, the future of Ukraine is in your hands,” the message read.
Another opposition leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, said: “It’s not just a simple revolution. It’s a revolution of dignity.”
Opposition MP Serhiy Pashynskyy said that “starting from today and until our demands are met, the government quarter will be blocked with protest rallies”.