Kiev protester

A protester throws a Molotov cocktail during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine. (Evgeny Feldman, Associated Press / January 22, 2014)

KIEV, Ukraine -- Two people have 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.

An Associated Press reporter saw medics declare two people dead near the barricades where police and protesters have confronted each other for three days. Police earlier reported one death, but it was unclear whether that was a separate victim.

Oleh Bondar, a medic, said the two men died of bullet wounds, but would not specify whether they were rubber or real bullets.

Police began dismantling barricades near a government district in Kiev on Wednesday morning, but protesters soon pushed them back to their original positions.

Ukraine's political crisis reached a new phase last week after President Viktor Yanukovych pushed through harsh anti-protest legislation. That prompted street battles at a cordon of riot police and buses near the Ukrainian parliament. Protesters threw rocks and fire bombs and police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

The clashes injured hundreds of protesters and police, but the deaths were likely to stoke anger and cause more people to join the protests and clashes.

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