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Naked women protesting in freezing temperatures and brawling MPs: Ukraine's Parliament gets off to a feisty start Feminist group staged nude protest at opening of Ukrainian ParliamentAllegations of corruption in country where opposition leader is jailedMPs brawled before vote to endorse new Prime Minister took place
22:30 GMT, 12 December 2012
The new session of the Ukrainian parliament got underway yesterday with a topless protest against corruption and brawling involving MPs on the floor of the chamber.
It was the first meeting of the new legislature since the West censured 'flawed' October elections in the country.
Four women from feminist grouping Femen, whose motto is 'We came, we undressed, we conquered', stripped naked except for black pants in temperatures of minus 3C.
Battleground: Opposition and pro-presidential MPs scuffle on the podium during the opening session of the Ukrainian 'Verkhovna Rada'
Blockade: Members of opposition parties block the door to Parliament during a day of violence and tension
Making a stand: Police officers detain a Femen activist protesting in front of the Ukrainian Parliament
Their stunt was an attempt to draw attention to alleged corruption in Ukraine, a country where the opposition leader and ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko has been jailed for crimes not recognised in the West as punishable by prison.
Before being hauled away by police, the Femen protesters claimed parliament was a 'stable' for the 'horses of oligarchs'.
Inside parliament, the opposition nationalist Svoboda group chased and manhandled two MPs, a father and son, in a bid to prevent them taking the oath.
They were physically ejected from the chamber by opposition
deputies who accused them of defecting to the ruling coalition.
The procedural wrangling at the opening of the
new parliament threatened to push back a key vote on whether Mykola Azarov will be endorsed for a new term as prime minister.
The vote will be the
first test of the support for President Viktor Yanukovich, who
Protest: The women were demonstrating over alleged corruption in the country, referring to Parliament as a 'stable' for the 'horses of oligarchs'
Getting physical: The three main opposition parties have ruled out any coalition with the ruling Party of the Regions
The ugly scuffles were the latest in a series of raucous scenes in the legislature in recent years.
MPs from Tymoshenko's party wore black jerseys with her portrait on the front and the phrase 'Freedom to Political Prisoners' on the back.
The October elections were seen as a consolidation of President Yanukovych's power.
Yanukovich's pro-business Party of the
Regions and their allies enjoyed a strong majority in the last
parliament, which allowed them to push through changes to the electoral
law and a law on use of the Russian language that sparked street
Although it is still the biggest single party, it lost seats in the October 28 election.
But the the three main opposition parties have ruled out any coalition with the Regions Party and sought to delay a vote on Azarov's nomination, arguing that
parliamentary procedure required him to meet all factions first.
When the speaker formally announced that
Azarov and his government were present, the chamber echoed to opposition
cries of 'Hanba! Hanba!' (Shame!)
Climbing to safety: One MP is hoisted forward. Political instability has led to a number of raucous scenes in Ukraine's Parliament in recent years