Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich met opposition leaders today (January 22, 2014) in an attempt to defuse street violence in which three men were killed overnight, but tensions remained high as his prime minister branded anti-government protesters "terrorists," the Reuters website reports.
The talks -- the first concrete move toward negotiating an end to two months of civil unrest -- ended after about three hours, but there was no immediate word from the presidency or opposition leaders.
Two of the dead men perished from police bullet wounds, Ukraine's general prosecutor said, and the third died after falling from the top of Dynamo football stadium while fighting with police. The protesters -- inflamed by news of the deaths -- faced off even more angrily with riot police.
Last night's deaths were the first protest-related deaths since the Ukrainian crisis erupted last November after Yanukovich enraged most Ukrainians by unexpectedly rejecting a trade deal at the last minute with the European Union (EU), and then agreeing to a deal of financial aid from Soviet-era overlord Russia to prop up Ukraine's ailing economy.