Every decent revolution produces an iconic scene. The 1989 Tiananmen protests had tank man; during Germany’s reunification it was a segment of the Berlin Wall swaying back and forth like a wiggly tooth before finally collapsing; in Baghdad in 2003, it was the slow-motion toppling of the giant statue of Saddam Hussein. On Sunday, the budding revolution in Ukraine got its iconic scene, when, amid protests of roughly 500,000 in Kiev’s Independence Square, angry marchers felled a Vladimir Lenin statue then slugged it to pieces with sledgehammers.
The protesters are upset with President Viktor Yanukovich, and specifically his November 29 decision to reject a free-trade deal with the EU. The decision was seen not only as a rejection of Europe, but an embrace of Russia. Many Ukrainians worry that Yanukovich, despite repeated denials, has struck a deal with Vladimir Putin to form a customs union with Russia.