Fists Fly, Men Wrestle in Ukraine Parliament

Opposition lawmakers swarmed the podium, too
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 13, 2012 11:11 AM CST

(Newser) – Ukraine's newly elected parliament today approved two presidential allies for the posts of prime minister and parliament speaker—but the buzzier news of the day was the violent brawl that preceded it. The Party of Regions led by President Viktor Yanukovych secured a majority after an October election condemned as unfair by the West. But three opposition parties made a strong showing and vowed to challenge Yanukovych's grip on power. Some took that literally. For the second day of the new parliament's work, fists flew as opposition lawmakers chanted "Shame! Shame!" and "No to defectors!"

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Opposition lawmakers swarmed the parliament's podium and a fight erupted with pro-government legislators. Lawmakers wrestled with each other and some deputies were knocked over in the melee. Opposition lawmakers were angry over the fact that some of their opponents continued the controversial practice of voting in place of their absent colleagues, despite a recent ban. Acting PM Mykola Azarov and Volodymyr Rybak, both staunch Yanukovych allies, were later voted premier and speaker, respectively. The opposition refused to take part in both votes and its members stormed out of the hall in protest, leaving Yanukovych to address a half-empty parliament in a video statement. (Read more Ukraine stories.)

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