Ukraine’s parliament has ratified a new naval base agreement with Russia despite the opposition’s resistance. The vote was mired with a fistfight, smoke bombs and hooliganism.
Ukraine, Kiev : Security personnel protect with umbrellas Speaker of Ukraine's parliament Volodymyr Liytvyn during a fight at a parliament sitting in Kiev on April 27, 2010. (AFP Photo / Sergey Supinskiy)
The document has been approved with 236 votes. It extends the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s stay at its base in Crimea until 2042 in exchange for a considerable gas price discount.
The opposition believes that the agreement undermines Ukraine’s national security and wanted the document to be denounced at any cost. At the session some deputies threw eggs at Speaker Vladimir Litvin, but he was saved from having his suit ruined by fellow MPs with umbrellas.
Ahead of the session the opposition faction of Yulia Timoshenko covered their seats with huge national flags and a banner saying “No treason of the motherland!”
Seconds after the session started smoke bombs were set off inside the parliamentary chamber. Some of the deputies fled, covering their faces with handkerchiefs, and those remaining opened all the doors to ventilate the room.
There are also reports of sporadic fistfights, and that some of the slots for deputy ID cards used to cast ballots had allegedly been blocked.
Meanwhile, thousands of protesters and supporters of the agreement have gathered outside of the parliament building. Some tried to enter, but have been stopped by a police cordon.