KIEV, March 19 (RIA Novosti) – Nationalist lawmakers in Ukraine’s rowdy legislature brawled Tuesday with deputies from the ruling Party of Regions in a standoff over which language should be used in parliament.
Fisticuffs are commonplace in the politically turbulent ex-Soviet nation’s parliament, but this latest scuffle has served to once again highlight broader latent tensions across the country.
Trouble began when opposition deputies blocked the podium after Party of Regions faction leader Oleksandr Yefremov starting delivering a speech in Russian.
Angry deputies tried to shout down Yefremov, calling out “Speak Ukrainian” and “Shame” while he was speaking.
After the fighting died down, parliament speaker Volodymyr Rybak announced a recess and invited faction leaders to his office for consultations.
The Svoboda All-Ukrainian Union ultra-nationalist party has repeatedly demanded that all members of parliament speak exclusively in Ukrainian and has pledged to block the podium again if deputies speak Russian.
Ukrainian is the country’s only official language.
About 50 percent of Ukrainians speak Russian, which is recognized only as a regional language. Some 17 percent of the population is ethnic Russian.
Russians reside primarily in urban centers and in the country’s industrialized eastern regions, near the Russian border.
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- Mikhail1228What idiocy!23:13, 19/03/2013Ukrainians have a choice to embrace as part of a massive motherland and Orthodox brotherhood or to stay with some little tiny state that is torn apart by the east-west divide. A state which is being used as a clash of spheres of influence battleground between Russia and the US. How does that saying go, divide and conquer?
The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.