Kiev, Ukraine - An estimated 500,000 protesters have taken to the streets of Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, to protest President Viktor Yanukovich and the ruling government. Yanukovich's decision not to join the European Union sparked the protest movement, which rapidly accelerated when security forces violently cracked down on a much smaller group of demonstrators a week earlier. There is no sign of riot police in the city center. Thousands have taken over the main square and brought down the largest statue of Lenin in Kiev. As President Yanukovich turned over the weekend to Russian President Vladimir Putin for help, many Ukrainians are expressing their desire to see the country move away from its close relationship with Moscow in favor of the more open, rule-of-law-oriented European Union.