Push Comes to Shove, and Punch, in Ukraine Parliament
MOSCOW — What began as a legislative debate over Ukraine’s official language policy escalated into a fist-swinging, clothes-ripping brawl between screaming, sweaty lawmakers that reverberated around the Internet on Friday, embellishing the country’s standing in the pantheon of parliamentary punchfests that are captured on camera. In what the BBC called the “Rumble in the Rada,” parliamentarians tumbled over their desks in the parliamentary chamber in Kiev, the capital, on Thursday night, trading blows, tearing shirts and choking one another as reporters and spectators in the balconies whistled and cheered. One deputy, thrown headfirst into a chair, turned and stumbled back into the melee. Another was flipped over a banister, feet flailing.
The 450-deputy Verkhovna Rada, as Parliament is called in Ukraine, was debating a measure that would elevate the status of Russian to a second language, equal to Ukrainian, in about half the regions of the country, including Kiev. The proposal’s passionate advocates and foes reflect the deep political divisions in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic where some regions harbor deep-seated resentment of Russians.
“You’re a corpse, you have two days left to live, we will crucify you on a birch tree,” the author of the legislation, Vadim Kolesnichenko, said his lawmaker adversaries told him. Volodymyr M. Lytvyn, the speaker, said the fight showed the “total collapse of parliamentarianism in the country.” A committee later rejected his proposal to dissolve Parliament and hold new elections.
The article notes that such legislative riots are not uncommon and have happened in the parliaments of Guatemala, Japan, Kenya, Nigeria, Russia, South Korea and Taiwan. Do they care more about issues than our politicians?
In comparison our Congress is the soul of civility. The worst violence is a Senator threatening a filibuster.