Brawls in Ukraine’s Parliament Are Almost as Good as Hockey Fights
Fights broke out in Ukraine's parliament Friday, and it was far from the first time.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was defending his government’s record before parliament Friday when Oleh Barna, a lawmaker from the allied Petro Poroshenko Bloc, interrupted to hand him a bouquet of roses.
But that wasn’t the only surprise Barna had in store for the embattled PM: He then picked up Yatsenyuk around the waist and groin, and physically removed him from the podium. Within seconds, the assembly was in a full-on brawl.
Support for Yatsenyuk, who gained power in the aftermath of former President Viktor Yanukovych’s ousting, has fallen dramatically in the past year. Even many of his one-time allies believe he has since failed to live up to some of his initial promises.
Friday’s ruckus broke out during a question-and-answer session that immediately followed Yatsenyuk’s address, which some members of parliament interpreted as a lengthy defense of the government’s lack of progress.
“I told you a year ago that nobody is going to promise the moon,” Yatsenyuk said. “You have full constitutional right to vote on the question of dismissing Ukraine’s cabinet. Put it to the vote. I’ll accept the decision of the Ukrainian parliament. I’m not clinging to this chair.”
Turns out he wasn’t able to cling to the podium either: He calmly allowed Barna to remove him, barely putting up a fight after being aggressively charged.
Yuriy Lutsenko, who heads Poroshenko’s bloc, said that Barna is mentally unstable due to combat experience, and that is what caused him to react so aggressively to Yatsenyuk’s remarks. But the fact he had flowers in hand likely would indicate it was pre-planned.
“The atmosphere in the room provoked mentally unbalanced people,” Lutsenko said. “Oleh Barna served on the frontline and is therefore too impulsive, but that does not excuse his actions.”
Barna was reportedly expelled from the bloc for his behavior, but this is far from the first time a fistfight has broken out in the Ukrainian parliament. Below are just a handful of the most dramatic brawls that have taken place between lawmakers in Kiev in recent years.
In July 2014, MP Nikolai Levchenko was pushed off the podium after he criticized a motion to enlist males under the age of 50 and increase military reserves.
And just three months before that, in April, lawmakers exchanged punches after a member of the Communist Party accused his far-right colleagues of bolstering Moscow during the early days of the Ukraine crisis.
In March 2013, Oleksandr Yefremov, head of the Party of Regions, addressed MPs in Russian. Nationalist lawmakers responded by throwing punches and chanting “Ukrainian!”
And in November 2008, Yatsenyuk was at the heart of another bloody fight, when lawmakers senselessly pummeled one another right before a vote to oust him as speaker.
Photo Credit: SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images