Whether the Ukraine aligns itself with the European Union or with Moscow is of some importance, far beyond the long overdue removal of old Soviet street art, it will define the relationship between the EU and Russia for the foreseeable future. Other former Soviet republics who have been sitting on the fence will be watching events in Kyiv with veiled interest to see what happens and to see how Russia reacts. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv seeking the resignation of the government for refusing a deal on closer ties with the European Union. The demonstrators protested initially about President Yanukovych's decision last month to suspend work on an association and free-trade accord with the EU. President Yanukovych defended that decision by saying the accord with the EU would damage close trade ties with Russia.
The protesters, who oppose a customs union with Russia, toppled a statue of Lenin and smashed it with hammers. This action followed a massive pro-EU demonstration on Independence Square on December 8th that attracted hundreds of thousands of people angered by Yanukovych's recent snub of the European Union in favour of improved ties with Moscow. However, the protesters are now calling for new parliamentary and presidential elections since the violent police crackdown against demonstrators on November 30th left dozens injured. The anger over the decision by Ukraine's political leadership to pull out of an EU Association Agreement has resulted in some of the largest public demonstrations since the country's Orange Revolution in 2004-05, which were sparked by a rigged presidential election won by Yanukovych.