Smoke bomb thrown in Ukrainian parliament during naval base debate

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

File:Verkhovna Rada Ukrainy.jpg

The Ukrainian parliament building
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

Chaos broke out in the Ukrainian parliament as several smoke bombs were thrown during a debate about the extended lease on a Russian naval base in Ukraine. Members of parliament (MPs) were seen fighting on the chamber floor while opposition MPs threw eggs at the speaker of the house, Volodymyr Lytvyn.

It is not clear who threw the smoke bombs, although opposition MPs were thought to be responsible, but the debate continued despite the lingering smoke and chaos. The speaker had to be protected by two aides holding umbrellas and politicians held handkerchiefs to their mouths.

Along with the brawling MPs, thousands of people waited outside the parliament building protesting the extended lease.

The clashes began as members of parliament were debating extending the lease on the Sevastopol naval base. The Russians currently have a lease on the base until 2017. The Russians have offered Ukraine cheaper supplies of Russian natural gas in exchange for a further 25 years on the lease.

After the chaos had calmed down, MPs voted on the agreement and the deal extending the lease was backed 236 to 214. The deal was then put forward in the Russian lower house of parliament, where all 410 Russian MPs voted in favour of the deal.