Reports of Ukrainian Police Shooting Protesters Spur Worldwide Outrage

Local police reportedly shoot and kill two protesters, spurring worldwide outrage.

Protesters clash with police Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, in central Kiev, Ukraine. 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 Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout.
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Worldwide outrage has followed reports that riot police shot and killed two protesters on the streets of Kiev, Ukraine, in an attempt to quell the latest episode of massive civil unrest in the country.

A State Department spokeswoman condemned the ongoing violence Wednesday morning, blaming both the harsh crackdown from the Ukrainian government and inflammatory actions by extremist groups such as Pravy Sektor.

[WORLD REPORT: Ukraine Is Tearing Itself Apart]

"We urge all sides to immediately de-escalate the situation and refrain from violence," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement. The U.S. has revoked visas for Ukrainian officials and others associated with the violence.

"[The U.S.] will continue to consider additional steps in response to the use of violence by any actors," Harf said.

At least one other protester died Wednesday after reportedly falling from a wall at a local sports arena. City health department spokeswoman Natalia Vishnevska said the man survived and is being treated at a nearby hospital, The Associated Press reports, though medics in the area said he died at the scene.

A protester points a handgun during a clash with police Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, in central Kiev, Ukraine. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

The Russian government has openly criticized what it says is Western involvement in the ongoing protests. The State Duma, the lower house of Russia's legislature, passed a resolution by a wide margin that urges "Western political circles to stop meddling in the internal affairs of sovereign Ukraine," according to state news service RIA Novosti.

The resolution says the interference violates international law and is further contributing to the conflict. It follows remarks by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who has claimed the West is "artificially undermining" the Ukrainian government.

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Massive protests began in November after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign new economic accords with the European Union, opting instead to bolster relations with Russia for financial support. The Russian government subsequently offered a $15 billion bailout to assist Ukraine's floundering economy.

The Ukrainian government has denied protesters' claims of police brutality among security forces. Prime Minister Mykola Azarov claimed local police do not have live ammunition with which to shoot protesters. However, prosecuting attorneys have opened a criminal investigation following the recovery of two bodies in the streets that had succumbed to gunshot wounds.

Protesters clash with police Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, in central Kiev, Ukraine. (Sergei Chuzavkov/AP)

Police continue to tear down barricades erected by the protesters throughout central Kiev. Thousands have occupied encampments around the clock, with some protests swelling up to hundreds of thousands of participants.

A local activist in Kiev reportedly documented government forces moving tanks into the capital city.

Other tweets from Ukrainian activists reportedly show the massive assembly of protesters following reports of the recent deaths.

 

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