Ukraine MPs brawl over language law in parliament video
Punch-up comes just two weeks before Euro 2012 kicks off amid fears for England fans' safety
WITH JUST two weeks to go before the 2012 European Championships kick off in Ukraine, and with concerns being raised about the safety and welfare of visiting fans to the country, a huge fist-fight has taken place in the country's parliament, the Rada.
Violent scuffles broke out yesterday as politicians debated a bill which would allow the official use of Russian in certain parts of the country. The brawl erupted between deputies loyal to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and MPs from pro-Western opposition parties, The Daily Telegraph reports.
One of those involved in the brawl can be seen sporting a blue-and-yellow scarf, bringing to mind fighting factions at a football match, something that will not have gone unnoticed by any England fans thinking of visiting Ukraine for England’s opening game against France in Donetsk on June 11.
The timing of the fight comes on the same day that the fear of racism in Ukraine and the threat of abuse and violence saw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain reveal that his family would not be travelling to the country to support him during the championships. Theo Walcott has already stated that his family will not travel.
Racism and crowd violence have been a persistent problem in Ukrainian football and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued a warning to supporters last week:
"Although the vast majority of visitors experience no difficulties," the FCO statement says, "foreign nationals have been the victims of violent crime in Kiev and other major cities. In some cases the attacks have been racially motivated. Travellers of Asian or Afro-Caribbean descent should take extra care."
Questions will inevitably be raised about the suitability of the country for international football matches with their politicians and lawmakers seemingly so quick to resort to violence; this is by no means the first time elected officials have come to blows.
Six deputies were admitted to the hospital following a fierce fight in December 2010 after members of Yanukovych's party threw chairs and punched opponents who had been blocking legislative work all day. Eggs and smoke bombs have also been hurled in parliament. After yesterday's violence, Opposition deputy Mykola Petruk was taken to hospital with his shirt covered in blood, apparently from a blow to the head.