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New Ukraine parliament packs punches -- literally -- in first session

Fists fly in Ukraine's parliament
Fists fly in Ukraine's parliament

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Story highlights

  • First session of new parliament in Ukraine ends in fisticuffs; one member's ear is torn
  • Fighting prevents the selection of speakers and prime minister, which will continue Thursday
  • Five main parties gained seats in election held in October, and the ruling Party of Regions won
Members of Ukraine's newly elected parliament came to blows Wednesday amid accusations of changing political views, and the mayhem prevented the election of a new prime minister and speaker.
The disruption started when members of the opposition tried to prevent two of its members from being sworn in because of suspicions that they had changed their political views.
One member's ear was torn, and others were thrown out of the session and the doors were blocked. The action was broadcast live on the parliamentary channel in Ukraine.
Later, members of the Svoboda Party, which came in fifth in national elections held in October, broke the doors and a metal detector at the parliament's entrance to let even more members in.
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Women demanding democratic reform

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Ukrainians head to the polls
Ukrainians head to the polls

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"We knocked and knocked," said Svoboda Party MP Yuriy Syrotyuk. "The question is, who locked the doors for the members of parliament?"
Member walked on tables, on their colleagues' heads and the speaker's seat. The number of injuries has not been released.
Eventually members agreed to suspend the session and resume Thursday. "Our negotiations were successful" said Oleksandr Efremov, a member of the Temporary Parliamentary Panel. "We negotiated to continue negotiations."
According to Ukrainian law, members of parliament are inviolable and cannot be punished, and police cannot intervene. Therefore, fights among members, many of whom are or were professional athletes, are common. Notably, Heavyweight World Boxing Champion Vitali Klitchko, also a party leader, was not involved in Wednesday's fisticuffs.
Elections in October left the ruling Party of Regions, led by President Viktor Yanukovich, in power. The second-place party, the United Opposition coalition, is organized by former Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, who is in prison on charges of abuse of authority, a punishment seen by the United States and Europe as politically motivated.