The protesters had filled Independence Square in central Kiev and surrounding streets to bursting point to denounce Yanukovych’s rejection of an EU pact under Kremlin pressure, in the biggest protests since the 2004 Orange Revolution.
In a hugely symbolic denouement to the rally, dozens of masked protesters, some brandishing flags of ultra-nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party, tore down the 3.4 metre (11 feet) high statue of the Bolshevik leader after putting a rope noose round Lenin’s neck.
“Hang the Commie!” screamed the protesters.
They then hacked away with axes at the remnants of the monument lying flat on the ground. Parts of the statue including one of its hands were afterwards triumphantly brandished at the main demonstration on Independence Square.