cbc.ca (© Copyright: (C) Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, http://www.cbc.ca/aboutcbc/discover/termsofuse.html#Rss)
Updated: Wed, 22 Jan 2014 10:36:43 GMT | By The Associated Press, cbc.ca

Ukraine police, Kyiv protester clashes kill 3



A protester in central Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Three people died in clashes between protesters and police in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday, according to medics on the site, in a development that will likely escalate Ukraine's two month-long political crisis. The mass protests in the capital of Kyiv erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favour of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion US bailout. Efrem Lukatsky/Associated Press

A protester in central Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Three people died in clashes between protesters and police in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday, according to medics on the site, in a development that will likely escalate Ukraine's two month-long political crisis. The mass protests in the capital of Kyiv erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favour of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion US bailout. Efrem Lukatsky/Associated Press

Ukrainian prosecutors say two men who died near the site of clashes with police were shot with live ammunition, a statement that will likely escalate Ukraine's two month-long political protests calling for the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych.

Medics at the site said third man also died after he fell from a great height.

Police tore down protester barricades and chased demonstrators away from the site of violent clashes.

Helmeted riot police moved in on hundreds of protesters Wednesday afternoon, beating and firing shots at some and sending people running. The violence is likely to drastically escalate Ukraine's two month-long political crisis.

The nearby main protest camp, however, remains intact.

Three protesters died in clashes with police in the Ukrainian capital Wednesday, according to medics on the site, a grim escalation of the country's two-month-long political crisis.

One man died in the hospital after falling from a high place, and two others were killed by gunshot wounds, said Oleh Musiy, co-ordinator of the protesters' medical corps.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov charged that opposition leaders should be held responsible for the deaths and said that police at the site of the clashes did not have live ammunition. But Musiy told The Associated Press the wounds resembled those caused by live ammunition.

The U.S. Embassy said it was revoking the visas of some Ukrainian officials linked to the violence and was considering further action. The embassy would not name the officials, citing privacy laws.

NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen issued a statement Wednesday expressing concern about the most recent deaths in Kyiv.

"Violence can never be the answer to a political crisis," he said. "It is urgent that all parties engage in a real dialogue, show restraint and avoid any further escalation."

The crisis began in late November after President Viktor Yanukovych stepped back from signing a long-anticipated co-operation deal with the European Union. That set off round-the-clock protests on Kyiv's central square, where protesters have set up an extensive tent camp.

The tensions soared last week when Yanukovych pushed through harsh anti-protest legislation. The clashes are occurring several hundred metres away from the protest tent camp site. While hundreds have been injured in recent days, the first deaths were likely to further escalate the crisis.

Three main opposition parties issued a statement blaming Yanukovych and his staunch ally Interior Minister Vitali Zakharcheko for the deaths.

"The Interior Minister, the bloody murderer Zakharchenko, bears personal responsibility for this act of terror of dictatorship against citizens," the parties said in a statement.

Azarov said police at the scene were not responsible for the deaths and blamed the deaths on the protesters.

"As the Prime Minister of Ukraine, I officially state that the casualties, which unfortunately already exist, remain on the consciousness and responsibility of the organizers and certain participants of mass disturbances," Azarov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

The police move on the barricades came on the same day when much of international attention was focused in Switzerland, where peace talks aimed at ending Syria's war began Wednesday.

more video