A dispute at a session of Ukraine's newly elected parliament has prompted lawmakers to resort to a more direct method of resolving political disagreements — a shoving match.
The run-in among two dozen or so deputies over the distribution of legislative committee chairs between fractions seemed to teeter on the verge of a full-fledged fist fight on Thursday, but reprimands from the parliament speaker cooled tempers down, according to video footage posted online.
"No, no, no, stop, stop, stop! Cease, esteemed colleagues, cease," Volodymyr Groisman implored from the podium, as lawmakers from opposing factions rushed from their seats to join in the highly direct and personal encounter in the middle of the legislative hall in Ukraine's parliament building in Kiev.
"I am asking you to cease, esteemed colleagues, and please return to your seats," Groisman, a close ally of President Petro Poroshenko, repeatedly said.
The squabble followed a vote on the distribution of committee chairmanships in the parliament, or Verkhovna Rada, that was elected in late October.
An independent lawmaker and former leader of the Maidan protest movement that toppled Ukraine's previous administration early this year, Volodymyr Parasyuk, scorned the parliament for forgetting the principles of the uprising that ousted former President Viktor Yanukovych from power in February.
And he did not mince his words.
"Open your lousy mouth one more time here, and we will kick you out of here very quickly, and your millions won't protect you," Parasyuk told a parliamentary coalition of the previous administration's supporters, with whom he took particular issue.
"Maidan and the Ukrainian people have been fighting for transparency," he told the legislature. "If we work an extra half-hour in this parliament and show the entire Ukrainian people that they didn't elect a couple of idiots, but [that we are] at their service, we will only earn bonus points."
In another legislative motion, lawmakers elected the first woman in Ukraine's history to a top parliamentary seat, naming Oksana Syroid of the Samopomich, or Self-Help, faction as a deputy speaker.
Syroid did not participate in the shoving match, according to the footage posted online.