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Russia slams "outside interference" in Ukraine's affairs

Russia on Wednesday slammed "outside interference" in its neighbour's affairs and accused the radical opposition against President Viktor Yanukovych of crudely violating the constitution.

MOSCOW: Russia on Wednesday slammed "outside interference" in its neighbour's affairs and accused the radical opposition against President Viktor Yanukovych of crudely violating the constitution.

"Ukraine's legitimate authorities face outside interference in its internal affairs," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told Interfax, referring to a number of statements from the United States and the European Union.

"The extremist part of the opposition is crudely violating the country's constitution," he added. "It is necessary to find a decision that would allow the situation to normalise."

"What's happening cannot be called a normal political process," the Russian diplomat added.

At least two activists were shot dead on Wednesday when Ukrainian police stormed protesters' barricades in Kiev, the first fatalities in the two months of anti-government protests.

The European Commission warned Ukraine of "possible actions" over the violence.

The United States has revoked the visas of several Ukrainian nationals linked to violence against protesters late last year, and said Wednesday it was considering "further action" over the current clashes.

Wednesday's incidents marked a new peak in tensions after the two months of protests over Yanukovych's decision to ditch a cooperation pact with the EU in November under pressure from Moscow.

In December, Russia rewarded the Ukrainian government for ditching the EU deal by agreeing to invest US$15 billion in the ex-Soviet country's government securities and cutting the prices of its natural gas supplies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the protests "more like a pogrom rather than a revolution."

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