Kharkiv: Pro-Ukrainian protesters in eastern Ukraine`s city Kharkiv on Sunday toppled a giant Lenin statue seen as a symbol of Soviet legacy and Moscow`s control.
The 8.5-metre (28-foot) statue of the Bolshevik revolutionary built in the 1960s, and the biggest in Ukraine, had been a source of contention between pro-European activists and their Communist foes since Ukraine`s Euromaidan protests last year.
In an apparently unplanned move, protesters who had taken part in a pro-Ukraine rally of several thousand people Sunday then moved toward the statue, and several scaled its tall base carrying saws.
In about two hours, by 10 pm, they managed to sever the legs from the base, and pull the statue to the ground.
Authorities in the eastern but largely pro-Ukrainian Russian-speaking city of about 1.5 million promised to remove the remains of the monument but members of the crowd were seen breaking up the Lenin on their own and carrying away pieces as souvenirs.
A criminal probe into the vandalism of a historic landmark opened late Sunday was closed just hours later, the interior ministry said, adding that the falling statue had caused no injuries.
"Lenin? Let him fall. As long as people are not injured. As long as this bloody Communist idol does not add to the toll of his victims," Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote on his Facebook page.
Lenin statues have fallen victim to protests across central Ukraine last winter, with demonstrators felling the Soviet symbol in a signal of their turn toward western Europe.
Lenin monuments, however, are still widespread in eastern Ukraine`s rebel-held areas such as Donetsk and Lugansk, where pro-Russian separatists have declared independence.