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Ukrainian president faces ultimatum to call new elections or face street rage

  • Protesters throw rocks at police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. City health officials and police said that two people died of gunshot wounds during the clashes Wednesday morning. But the opposition charges that as many as five people have died. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

    Protesters throw rocks at police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. City health officials and police said that two people died of gunshot wounds during the clashes Wednesday morning. But the opposition charges that as many as five people have died. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)  (The Associated Press)

  • An Orthodox priest prays in front of police officers as they block a street after clashes in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. City health officials and police said that two people died of gunshot wounds during the clashes Wednesday morning. But the opposition charges that as many as five people have died. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

    An Orthodox priest prays in front of police officers as they block a street after clashes in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. City health officials and police said that two people died of gunshot wounds during the clashes Wednesday morning. But the opposition charges that as many as five people have died. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)  (The Associated Press)

  • Protesters clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. City health officials and police said that two people died of gunshot wounds during the clashes Wednesday morning. But the opposition charges that as many as five people have died. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout.  (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

    Protesters clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. City health officials and police said that two people died of gunshot wounds during the clashes Wednesday morning. But the opposition charges that as many as five people have died. The mass protests in the capital of Kiev erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spurned a pact with the European Union in favor of close ties with Russia, which offered him a $15 billion bailout. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)  (The Associated Press)

Thick black smoke from burning tires is engulfing the downtown Ukrainian capital as an ultimatum issued by the opposition to the president to call early election or face street rage was set to expire with no sign of a compromise.

The three main opposition leaders urged protesters late Wednesday to refrain from violence for 24 hours until their ultimatum to President Viktor Yanukovych expires.

The largely peaceful protest against Yanukovych's decision to shun the EU and turn toward Moscow in November descended into violence Sunday when demonstrators marched on official buildings.

For days protesters hurled fire bombs and stones at police, which retaliated with stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets. The deaths of two protesters Wednesday fueled fears of more violence.