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Fists Fly in Ukraine Parliament as Communists Clash With Nationalists

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Communist lawmakers scuffle with right-wing Svoboda Party lawmakers during a session in the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev on April 8, 2014. Vladimir Strumkovsky / AP

Lawmakers in the Ukrainian parliament brawled in the chamber on Tuesday after a communist leader accused nationalists of playing into the hands of Russia by adopting extreme tactics early in the Ukrainian crisis.

Two deputies from the Svoboda far-right nationalist party took exception to the charges by communist Petro Symonenko and seized him while he was talking from the rostrum.

His party supporters rallied to his defense and a brawl broke out with deputies from other parties joining in and trading punches.

Image: UKRAINE-RUSSIA-CRISIS-POLITICS-PARLIAMENT-FIGHT
Lawmakers from the Svoboda party fight with Communist members in the Ukrainian parliament on April 8, 2014. YURIY KIRNICHNY / AFP - Getty Images

Symonenko stirred nationalist anger when, referring to pro-Russian protesters who seized buildings in eastern Ukraine, he said nationalists had set a precedent earlier this year by seizing public buildings in protest at the rule of ousted President Viktor Yanukovich.

Now, he said, armed groups were attacking people who wanted to defend their rights by peaceful means.

"You are today doing everything to intimidate people. You arrest people, start fighting people who have a different point of view," he said, before being pulled away from the rostrum by the Svoboda deputies.

— Reuters

Image:
Communist lawmakers scuffle with right-wing Svoboda (Freedom) Party lawmakers during a parliament session of Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, in Kiev, Ukraine on Tuesday, April 8, 2014. Vladimir Strumkovsky / AP
Brawl Breaks Out in Ukrainian Parliament 0:40