Pope Francis calls for constructive dialogue in Ukraine

ROME (Reuters) - Pope Francis called on Sunday for an end to violence in Ukraine after at least three people were killed during the latest clashes in the two-month crisis.

Police and demonstrators in Kiev clashed again on Sunday as protests against President Viktor Yanukovich's abrupt turn away from the European Union towards Russia, Ukraine's former Soviet overlord.

"I am close to Ukraine in prayer, in particular to those who have lost their lives in recent days and to their families," Pope Francis said in his weekly Angelus in St Peter's Square.

"I hope that a constructive dialogue between the institutions and civil society can take place, that any resort to violence is avoided and that the spirit of peace and a search for the common good is in the hearts of all."

The mass rallies against Yanukovich's rule erupted last November after he pulled out of a free trade deal with the EU in favor of closer economic ties with Russia.

They have since spiraled into protests against misrule and corruption among Ukraine's leaders and officials. There have been violent clashes with police in Kiev city center, resulting in the death of three protesters last week, two from gunshot wounds.

(Reporting By James Mackenzie; Editing by David Goodman)