News / Europe

New Ukraine Parliament Opens Amid Protests

Lawmakers fight in Ukraine's parliament in Kyiv, Ukraine, December 12, 2012.
Lawmakers fight in Ukraine's parliament in Kyiv, Ukraine, December 12, 2012.
VOA News
Ukraine's new parliament convened Wednesday in a session marred by protests and fist fights.

The session was the first since President Viktor Yanukovych's Party of Regions secured a slim majority in October elections that observers say were marred by fraud.

During the session, a fight broke out when several opposition lawmakers attacked two legislators suspected of defecting from the opposition to the pro-government party.

  • Opposition lawmakers chase away two colleagues from the parliament hall, Kyiv, Ukraine, December 12, 2012.
  • Members of parliament scuffle with colleagues at the first session of newly-elected Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv, December 12, 2012.
  • Lawmakers fight in parliament, Kyiv, Ukraine, December 12, 2012.
  • Members of the opposition party Svoboda break down a fence in front of parliament, Kyiv, Ukraine, December 12, 2012.
  • Activists from  Svoboda fight with riot police in front of parliament, Kyiv, Ukraine, December 12, 2012.

Meanwhile, outside the parliament building, a group of topless women protested against government corruption. Several of the activists from the group Femen were detained.

Lawmakers are expected to vote later Wednesday to elect a speaker, as well as vote on reinstating President Yanukovych's ally Mykola Azarov to the post of prime minister.

Western observers slammed Ukraine's October legislative elections as unfair because President Yanukovych's main rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, and other opposition members are imprisoned and unable to run. Also, observers criticized what they called a lack of transparency in the vote count.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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