Ukraine MPs could face charges for disrupting vote on Russia treaty

Ukraine MPs could face charges for disrupting vote on Russia treaty

[JURIST] Ukrainian prosecutors said Thursday that they may file criminal charges in connection with Tuesday's Parliament [official website, in Ukrainian] session in which lawmakers hurled eggs and smoke bombs [AP report] and engaged in physical violence. Chaos broke out Tuesday as lawmakers approved a treaty [press release, in Ukrainian] that will extend Russia's lease on a naval base in the Ukrainian Sevastopol port on the Black Sea until 2042 in exchange for discounted Russian gas. The agreement was strongly opposed by pro-Western lawmakers who threw eggs and smoke bombs at the speaker in an attempt to stop the vote. Despite the pandemonium, the measure passed with 236 votes in the 450-member parliament, and the treaty was signed into law Thursday. Prosecutors said that those responsible for the mayhem could face charges of hooliganism [CBC report], which carries a penalty of four years imprisonment.

The treaty comes soon after the election [JURIST report] of President Viktor Yanukovych [official website, in Ukrainian], who took office in February. Yanukovych replaced Viktor Yushchenko [JURIST news archive], who had sought to cut ties with Russia and strengthen relationships with Western Europe. Yushchenko opposed the extension of Russia's Black Sea lease.