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Politics can be boring. But there’s nothing like a good ol’ Ukrainian fistfight to liven up a sleepy Parliament.
The combatants—MP Vadim Ivchenko of the Batkivshchyna, or “Fatherland” party and MP Yegor Sobolev of the Samopomich, or “Self Reliance” party—came to blows in the hall outside the Parliament chambers in Kiev on February 12.
The dispute reportedly stemmed from a debate inside the country’s divided legislature over anti-corruption reform Bill N1159. The proposed reform, introduced by Ivchenko, would reportedly give local deputies control over land regulation and appropriations. Sobolev argues that granting officials such power is itself corruption, which is about as hot-button an issue in Ukrainian politics as Obamacare coverage for same-sex couples in Alabama.
The blows in Parliament mirrored the renewed fighting in eastern Ukraine against pro-Russian separatists and came even after a freshly minted ceasefire, negotiated just this week, gave pause to full-scale fighting in January, which returned after last September’s ceasefire devolved.
Since the epic battles on the Maidan of early 2014, rebels have upgraded their weapons, thanks to support from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Now, the Ukrainian government is fighting off Russian-backed separatists of the self-proclaimed “Donesk People’s Republic,” who are on the verge of expanding their control to include three major cities in eastern Ukraine. A government bombing of the rebel-held city Mariupol on January 24 killed 30 people. President Petro Poroshenko declared a state of emergency on Janurary 26, and dozens of rebels and civilians have been killed in the past few weeks of fighting.
Sobolev left the fight with a bloody nose, and both members of parliament were suspended for five days. Later, a fellow deputy from Sobolev’s party shook his hand and called him “manly.” In Ukraine, bros have each other’s back.
Maybe now, Ukraine will take the title of “Most Violent Parliament” from Italy.
Photo via Feans/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Shawn Carrié is an Istanbul-based Middle East correspondent with a focus on human rights and conflict. Since 2014, he has covered the war in Syria, Turkish politics, and more for the Intercept, Yahoo News, Vice, CJR, and Newsweek.