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US revokes Ukraine visas as protests turn deadly

Sergei Supinsky / AFP - Getty Images

Protesters clash with the police in the center of Kiev on Wednesday.

The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine revoked the visas of a number of Ukrainians on Wednesday as a crackdown on opposition protesters turned deadly overnight. 

The embassy said that under U.S. law it was not permitted to say whose visas it had revoked, but referred to "several Ukrainians who were linked to the violence." But the U.S. has clearly aligned itself on the side of the protesters and against the actions of troops deployed by President Viktor Yanukovych.

The American statement came as news emerged that three protesters had been killed. The Ukraine's general prosecutor said in a statement seen by Reuters that three protesters had been killed in violence: two from gunshot wounds, the other falling to his death from atop the Dynamo Kiev football stadium, the scene of some of the clashes.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov branded demonstrators "terrorists" who would be punished.

Protesters clashed with riot police in the Ukrainian capital after tough anti-protest legislation was rushed through parliament last week.

Hours later, opposition leader Arseny Yatsenyuk tweeted that Yanukovich had agreed to meet three main opposition leaders at 1.45 p.m. (6.45 a.m. ET).

Protests first broke out on Nov. 21 after the Ukraine ditched a deal with the European Union in favor of a shift toward Vladimir Putin's Russia.

As many as 100,000 people descended on Independence Square, the Maidan, again on Sunday after tough anti-protest legislation was rushed through parliament last week.

Despite calls for peaceful protest by opposition leaders, a smaller group splintered off and clashed with riot police near the parliament building. The street battles have at times turned downtown Kiev into an urban battleground.

The embassy statement on Wednesday said it was "considering further action against those responsible for the current violence."

During December's protests, Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy traveled to Kiev to give their support to the opposition.

"To all Ukrainians, America stands with you," McCain told the crowd.

Hollywood star George Clooney also posted a video last month in which he told the demonstrators: "When you look to the West, know that we are looking back at you with great admiration."

Reuters contributed to this report.

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