Ukraine: Blood in the Parliament

On Dec. 16, a fierce fight broke out (ENG) in the Ukrainian Parliament, sending at least four lawmakers to the hospital with injuries of various degrees of severity.

The conflict got out of hand late Thursday evening, after the pro-presidential Party of Regions stormed the parliament podium, occupied by members of Yulia Tymoshenko’s Block in protest of the criminal proceedings (ENG) against their leader.

Comments on the footage by TV Channel 1+1 (on YouTube – here), showing pro-presidential lawmakers swearing and throwing chairs at their opponents, express popular frustration with this event.

User Lola writes (UKR):

Гидко і страшно. І це еліта нашої країни! Матюкаються як не знаю хто… братва біля влади, тепер вони це регулярно демонструватимуть(.

This is disgusting and frightening. And this is the elite of our country! They curse like I do not know who… thugs have got the power, now they will regularly demonstrate it (.

User layer is also disillusioned with the MPs (UKR):

за що голосували- те й отримали це відео ще раз засвідчить Європі, яка в Україні “демократія”

what [we] have voted for – that’s what [we] got. This video again demonstrates to Europe what kind of “democracy” we have in Ukraine

Although this was not the first time MPs resorted to physical violence (see this GV post), the case seems to have set a new low with its degree of aggression and organization. Many MPs themselves were appalled.

Yulia Tymozhenko’s Block member Andriy Shevchenko (@ashevch) tweeted the following from the midst of the fight (UKR):

У Гнаткевича тиск 280 на 100. Реально шкода. Старший крихітний чоловік

Кріпко пом'яли старого Гнаткевича і Василя Кравчука

У Бондаренка перелом руки. Забрала швидка

Просто звірі. Обличчя всі ті самі. Наступний раз регіонали будуть штурмувати з ножами

Hnatkevych’s blood pressure is 280/100. It’s a real shame. [He is] an older minuscule man

Old Hnatkevych and Vasyl Kravchuk got beaten up pretty badly

Bondarenko’s got a broken arm. [He is] taken away by the ambulance

[They are] just animals. The faces are all the same. Next time the [Party of] Regions will storm with knives

In response, @privet_bank has suggested instituting a special law enforcement office charged with keeping order in the Parliament (RUS):

Уважаемый @ashevch, а почему до сих пор нету Парламентских Приставов в Раде? США такое проходили уже. Sergeant At Arms

Dear @ashevch, why are there still no Parliamentary Bailiffs in the Rada [Ukrainian Parliament]? The USA has gone through a similar thing already. Sergeant At Arms

According to media reports (UKR), the storming of the parliament podium was intentionally planned for 7 p.m., when most journalists would have left the building.

Opposition MP Volodymyr Aryev, who filmed deputies organizing for the assault with his mobile phone, reports (UKR):

Вони йшли по коридору ВР до сесійної зали, наче справжня банда на розборки. Ви би бачили ці обличчя… […] Жахливо і сумно, до чого докотилися ми, докотилася країна.

They walked down the parliament hallway to the session hall like a real gang going for an organized fight. You should have seen these faces… […] It is awful and sad what we have all degraded to, what our country has degraded to.

@ashevch‘s tweets from the session hall also suggest a degree of planning (UKR):

[…] Дуже темно. Перед штурмом погасили майже все світло

[…] It’s really dark. Nearly all of the light has been switched off prior to storming

At the same time, Party of Regions member Oleh Tsariov, who participated in the assault, called the opposition’s injuries and consequent arrival of ambulances “theatrical” (UKR).

A journalist and blogger Oleksandr Hun’ko concludes by drawing a parallel between the physical violence in the Parliament and the aggressive rhetoric of government officials (UKR):

Нічого дивного в цьому нема. Такий у нас рівень влади. Президент не соромиться на погрози — “повідривати голови” чи “повідбивати руки”. Його слова тут же повторюють губернатори. […]

Слова мають здатність матеріалізовуватися. У квітні в парламенті так віддухопелили депутата Олеся Донія, що він кілька тижнів провів у лікарні, переніс операцію на спині. Нікого за це не покарали. У минулий четвер народні обранці знов зійшлися врукопашну в сесійній залі.

It is not surprising at all. That is the level of our government. The President is not ashamed of making threats – “screw [their] heads off” or “break off [their] hands”. His words are immediately repeated by the governors. […]

Words tend to materialize. In April, MP Oles’ Doniy was beaten up so badly that he had to spend a few weeks in a hospital and undergo a spine surgery. Nobody was held responsible for it. And so last Thursday elected officials again met fist to fist in the session hall.

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