As Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk spoke Friday in the country’s Parliament, a lawmaker approached him and offered him a bouquet of roses before trying to remove him from the podium, setting off another mass brawl among politicians, local media reported. Ukraine’s Parliament has seen its fair share of brawls over the last few years, but this one comes as Yatsenyuk faces increasing pressure to step down from power.
The prime minister, whose approval ratings have fallen to single digits in recent months, was discussing his government’s record when lawmaker Oleh Barna, a member of President Petro Poroshenko’s party, walked up to the leader.
After handing Yatsenyuk the flowers, Barna grabbed the prime minister at the waist and tried to carry him away. Several other lawmakers then got involved, and a fight broke out. Barna told local media that he thinks Yatsenyuk should step down from power, or the people will “carry him out.”
Local media reported that Yatsenyuk was making remarks about Energy Minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn and connections with the energy company DTEK, which is owned by Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov.
The relationship between Yatsenyuk and President Poroshenko has reportedly frayed, and Yatsenyuk has said he would not try to stay in power if the Parliament passed a no-confidence vote. The two politicians represent different political blocs.
The brawl comes at a difficult moment in Ukraine, as the country continues its efforts to implement political and economic reforms in order to receive bailout support from the International Monetary Fund. And the conflict in Eastern Ukraine that has pitted government troops against Russian-backed separatists continued, with the United Nations reporting this week that more than 9,000 people have been killed and more than 20,000 have been injured. Russia continues to deny playing any direct military role in the war.
Friday’s brawl settled down, but it fits into a pattern of fights that have erupted in the country’s Parliament and gained global attention for over five years.