- By Elizabeth F. RalphElizabeth Ralph is a researcher at Foreign Policy.
Fights used to break out in the U.S. Congress — an occurrence that became obsolete as news cameras started making their way onto the House and Senate floors. But the prospect of being caught on camera trading blows doesn’t seem to worry Ukrainian politicians. Earlier today, dozens of MPs got into a fist fight in the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament.
Here’s how it reportedly went down: When the head of the ruling, pro-Russian Party of Regions opened the session speaking Russian, his opponents in the nationalist Liberty Party began chanting "Speak Ukrainian!" and pounding on their desks. After the speaker called his opponents "chanting neo-fascists," a member of the Liberty Party took to the podium, the Party of Regions began calling him a fascist to drown him out, and the fighting began.
Here’s a video:
Before you get too carried away by the footage, it’s worth pointing out that parliamentary fights between Ukraine’s pro-Russian and nationalist factions are not new — there is at least one a year. And in the grand scheme of political brawls, today’s was nothing special. Last year, another fight over the use of the Russian language led to several broken ribs:
In May 2011, the vice speaker took out a deputy who walked to the front and demanded to make a speech:
In April 2010, a debate over Russia’s use of a naval base on the Black Sea erupted into a clash involving smoke bombs, egg throwing, and head locks: