'Tis the season . . . to punch your colleague. But in Ukraine, apparently, it’s always that season.
Ukrainian lawmakers carried on a tradition of a sort when they began punching each other Thursday during a parliamentary session.
The brawl broke out when opposition lawmaker Nestor Shufrych called Viktor Medvedchuk, a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician, an “agent” of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Then, as he walked away from the lectern, Shufrych ripped down a poster showing Medvedchuk’s face.
That, it turned out, was a bridge too far.
Within seconds, two men were upon Shufrych. As they grappled, one of the men threw a punch at Shufrych. The fight quickly escalated and clogged an aisle as others joined in.
This isn’t the first, second or even third time this has happened. Ukraine has a long history of parliamentary brawling, some fights breaking out over personal matters and others over major domestic and international issues.
Here are a few:
In 2014, a similar skirmish erupted between nationalist and pro-Russian lawmakers over fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The next year, a parliamentary session in March was cut short after one politician accused another of taking a bribe. His demands for his allegedly corrupt colleague to resign turned into another exchange of blows.
Later in 2015, fighting broke out within the ruling coalition after one lawmaker attempted to physically remove then-Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk from the podium. In this case there was some decorum: Before hoisting Yatsenyuk off his feet, the legislator handed him a bouquet of red flowers.
Yet another disagreement took place in February 2015. This one happened on the sidelines, but it was no less heated than any of the fights that took place on the parliament floor. Lawmakers Yegor Sobolev and Vadim Ivchenko came to blows over a bill on land ownership, according to Radio Free Europe. The scuffle lasted almost a minute, resulting in a bloodied nose and lip before security forces intervened.
Afterward, then-speaker Volodymyr Groysman called for a code of ethics for lawmakers, given all the violence. It appears any such proposal is still a work in progress.