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Slain protester mourned in Kiev as Ukrainian political crisis worsens

Sergei Supinsky / AFP - Getty Images

Anti-government protesters carry the coffin of Mikhail Zhiznevsky during a funeral ceremony held on Kiev's Independence Square on January 26.

Police clashed with protesters in Kiev on Sunday as thousands of Ukrainians swarmed the streets of the capital to mourn the death of a demonstrator killed during bloody scuffles with riot police last week.

As a coffin carrying the body of Mikhail Zhizvensky, 25, was hauled through the streets, legions of mourners chanted "Hero!" and sang the national anthem. The fallen protester was one of three who died Wednesday as the political crisis that has engulfed the Eastern European nation for two months erupted into bloodshed.

"He could have been my fiance, but he died defending my future so that I will live in a different Ukraine," said Nina Uvarov, a 25-year-old student from Kiev who wept as Zhiznevsky's body was carted out of St. Michael's Cathedral, according to the Associated Press.

The protest movement was sparked in Kiev after embattled President Viktor Yanukovych scuttled a landmark trade pact with the European Union in favor of securing a bailout loan from Russia. The civil uprisings exploded into violence a week ago after the government imposed new, stringent anti-protest laws.

With the fate of the Ukrainian government hanging in the balance, Yanukovich on Saturday attempted to make a key concession to protesters with an eye on easing the political crisis, offering high-level posts to opposition leaders — including the role of prime minister.

But the opposition leaders quickly turned down the surprise offer in a sign that protesters are holding out for a more decisive and well-rounded political victory.

Yanukoyvch had proposed one opposition figurehead, Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk, as prime minister and another leader, the former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, as vice prime minister for humanitarian affairs.

"No deal," Yatsenyuk said in a tweet Saturday. "[W]e're finishing what we started. The people decide our leaders, not you."

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.