Eggs and punches thrown in Ukrainian parliament chaos
Published 28/04/2010 | 05:00
Pandemonium broke out in Ukraine's parliament yesterday with punches, eggs and smoke bombs being thrown during a debate over a treaty extending Russia's lease of a Black Sea navy base.
Aides used umbrellas to shield parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn from a barrage of eggs while MPs punched and pushed each other amid smoke bombs as officials and police struggled to restore order.
One MP was seen holding a handkerchief to a bloody nose, while others had ripped shirts and jackets. Protesters also unfurled a huge Ukrainian flag which they threw over the MPs.
The parliament was debating the ratification of an agreement struck between Viktor Yanukovich, Ukraine's president, and Dmitry Medvedev, his Russian counterpart, that extends Russia's lease of a Crimean naval base until 2042.
Despite the chaos, the treaty was ratified with 236 members of the 450-seat house voting in favour.
"Neither smoke bombs, egg-throwing, nor fighting is going to prevent the majority from taking its decisions," said Mykola Azarov, the prime minister.
The agreement had widened the divide that separates the country's pro-western and pro-Russian halves.
But the deal came with significant sweeteners from Russia. Under the terms of the lease, Russia will knock 30pc off Kiev's natural gas bill for the next 10 years, which could save Ukraine about €30bn.
Moscow will also pay Kiev €75m a year in rent for the base, which it sees as vital for its geo-political security.
"Today will go down as a black page in the history of Ukraine and the Ukrainian parliament," former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, now in opposition, told reporters inside parliament. (© Daily Telegraph, London)