News / Europe

Ukrainian Egg-Throwing Melee Against Russian Fleet Agreement

Opposition lawmakers unfurl huge Ukrainian flag, voice anger at 25-year lease extension

Peter Fedynsky

An egg-throwing melee in the Ukrainian parliament, the Rada, accompanied ratification of a controversial agreement to extend the lease of Russia's Black Sea Fleet in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol for at least 25 years.

Chaos broke out on the floor of Ukraine's Rada as lawmakers opposed to the Black Sea Fleet agreement with Russia unleashed a volley of eggs at the speaker's platform.  Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn protected himself with an umbrella.

Opposition members covered much of the floor with a huge Ukrainian flag and someone set off a smoke bomb.  Some deputies traded punches across the flag, and one was seen grabbing another around the neck in a tight hammer lock.

With opponents shouting in the background, Lytvyn said the Black Sea Agreement was ready for a vote.

The Rada's audio countdown timer signaled the vote to be over.  Lytvyn announced a majority of 236 lawmakers favored ratification in the 450-seat chamber.

The winning side shouted approval.  Its members welcome closer ties with Russia, saying the agreement is a good economic deal for Ukraine.  Detractors cried "shame."

The Ukrainian constitution allows former Soviet bases on its territory during an unspecified transition period.  But critics say the agreement goes far beyond any reasonable time frame and violates a constitutional ban on foreign bases in Ukraine.

The Black Sea Fleet agreement extends Russia's lease on the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol through the year 2042, with an option to extend another five years.  In exchange, Ukraine gets a 30 percent discount on Russian natural gas for the next 10 years.  Russia was to have left the port in 2017, more than a quarter century after the Soviet collapse.

In Russia, state television noted Ukrainian media did not halt their live coverage of the unfolding embarrassment.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said Ukrainian lawmakers ratified the agreement with what he called their "traditional elegance."

Mr. Medvedev says the Rada got together and staged a small concert complete with special effects.  But he expresses satisfaction with passage of the measure, because it shows that common sense and strategic interests prevailed over momentary emotions.

Independent Russian military analyst Alexander Golts told VOA many Russians fail to realize that Ukraine is fundamentally different from Russia.  He notes that a very significant segment of Ukrainian society opposes the fleet as a matter of principle.

Golts says Russian authorities are hostages to [Ukraine's pro-Russian] Regions Party and President Viktor Yanukovych.  He says the Kremlin must pray that Mr. Yanukovych and successors who agree with his approach will live forever or at least until 2042.

Presidents Yanukovych and Medvedev signed the fleet agreement last week in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

Golts says Ukrainian politicians can make additional demands against Moscow in exchange for continued pro-Russian policies.  He cites Belarus and Kyrgyzstan as countries that have pledged support for Russia in exchange for financial aid.

Nationalist lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky made a similar point in the Russian Parliament, saying there is nothing to prevent the emergence of another Viktor Yushchenko. Ukraine's former leader insisted the Russian fleet leave in 2017 as initially agreed to.

Russian lawmakers ratified the agreement with 410 votes in favor, none opposed.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid