Chaos as Ukraine okays deal

Eggs, smoke bombs greet fleet pact with Russia

Chaos as Ukraine okays deal

Smoke from smoke bombs fill the session hall during ratification of the Black Sea Fleet deal with Russia, in parliament in Kiev, Ukraine on Tuesday, AP

The scuffles broke out after eggs were thrown at the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Volodymr Lytvyn, who then took cover behind two black umbrellas held by aides.
The first smoke bomb was then thrown from an unknown source and the chamber filled with smoke, making it difficult to watch proceedings. Some deputies covered their noses or put on masks as alarms sounded. A second smoke bomb was thrown shortly afterwards, creating thicker smoke in the chamber as deputies nonetheless continued their debate.
The deputies in the notoriously fractious parliament were taking part in a session debating a controversial deal last week to extend the lease on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet naval base in Crimea until at least 2042.
The deal signed last week by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych had been slammed by the pro-Western Ukrainian opposition as a historic surrender of sovereignty. Deputies also started fighting over a massive Ukrainian flag in the middle of the chamber, twisting and distorting the yellow and blue banner as smoke continued to billow in the chamber.
Business, as usual
Amid the chaos, some deputies tried to push on with their business as if nothing extraordinary was taking place, with speakers taking to the floor. With some lawmakers shouting “Shame, Shame!”, the parliament ratified the pact with 236 lawmakers voting in favour of ratifying the deal in the 450-seat chamber.
Protest outside
Thousands of pro-Western supporters meanwhile protested outside parliament over the decision, shouting “Death to Traitors” and “Crimea is Ours”.
Amid a heavy security presence, supporters of Yanukovych held a counter rally brandishing banners with slogans like “Ukraine and Russia: Strategic Partners.”
The fleet deal marked a dramatic turnaround in Russian-Ukrainian ties after the relationship became so bad under Yanukovych’s predecessor, the fiercely pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko, that Moscow refused to do business with him.
Under the deal, Russia agreed to give Ukraine a 30 per cent discount on Russian natural gas imports estimated to be worth $40 billion over 10 years.
In exchange, Kiev has extended the lease of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet base in Crimea for another 25 years after 2017.

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