Watch Ukraine’s Interior Minister Throw Water at the Former President of Georgia
Footage has been released of a tense fight between Ukrainian government officials.
Dressed in a black turtleneck sweater and seated around a table with a number of other politicians, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov’s facial expression grows more and more agitated, until bam! He interrupts a ranting Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia and current governor of Ukraine’s Odessa Oblast, by picking up a cup of water and throwing it right at him.
The altercation took place at a National Reforms Council meeting Monday, but footage was not released until Wednesday. Both men believing it would justify their own behavior, and it was ultimately published by Avakov.
The bickering reportedly began after Avakov questioned Saakashvili’s involvement with a Russian businessman. Saakashvili interpreted Avakov’s remarks as an implication he is involved in a corruption scandal.
Avakov wasn’t the only one pointing fingers during the heated exchange.
In a Facebook post Wednesday describing the water assault, Saakashvili recounted he had just finished presenting proof of corruption by Avakov and Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. He said Avakov then screamed at Saakashvili to “get out of his country.” At that point, Saakashvili said, Yatsenyuk called him a “gastrollior,” which the governor defined as a “term mostly used in Russia to describe ‘undesirable aliens.’”
Saakashvili was born in Georgia but is a citizen in Ukraine, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appointed him as governor of Odessa in May. In recent months, he has repeatedly publicly accused Yatsenyuk and Avakov of corruption.
Avakov, on the other hand, said his simple question of whether Saakashvili is involved with a Russian businessman forced the Odessa governor “into hysterics.”
Avakov called the governor a “wack-job populist” and claimed Saakashvili responded to his question by speaking in the third person. “Nobody has the right to talk to Mikheil Saakashvili this way… You’re a corrupt minister while I am an honorable man!” Avakov claimed Saakashvili screamed.
Poroshenko’s spokesman, Svyatoslav Tseholko, said in a Facebook post that “such street-style clashes shame the country.”
Footage of the incident shows Poroshenko sitting with his head in his hands, while the man to Avakov’s right appears to be about to doze off before he is interrupted with a splash of water.
This is just the latest in a series of public political brawls that seem to happen in Ukraine more often than anywhere else. Last Friday, disgruntled Ukraine lawmaker Oleh Barna interrupted a parliament speech by Yatsenyuk by grabbing his waist and crotch, and lifting him away from the podium.
In that scuffle, Avakov had Yatsenyuk’s back: He posted on Facebook that Barna learned the prime minister has “balls of steel” after picking him up.
Photo Credit: SERGEY BOBOK/AFP/Getty Images