Ukrainian lawmakers broke into a massive brawl Thursday during a parliamentary session, continuing a long-held tradition of trading punches over the issues of the day.
A video showed several members of parliament throwing punches at each other after opposition lawmaker Nestor Shufrych accused pro-Russian Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk of being Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “agent.”
As Shufrych walked away from the podium, he tore down a poster displaying Medvedchuk’s face. But what happened next caused tensions to rise in the chamber.
Seconds after Shufrych tore down the poster, several other members of parliament ganged up on Shufrych. People’s Front politician Yuriy Bereza threw a punch in Shufrych’s direction, setting off a brawl where members clogged the aisles of the parliamentary chamber to get a piece of the action.
The brawl broke out shortly after parliament passed a bill requiring the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to rebrand itself as the “Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine” to reflect the church’s Russian ties.
The legislation comes as tensions between Russia and Ukraine have increased four years after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
Members of Ukraine’s parliament have brawled during parliamentary sessions for years, squabbling over matters ranging from petty personal problems to issues of international consequence.
In 2014, a brawl broke out between nationalist and pro-Russian lawmakers after parliamentary members narrowly passed a bill sending Ukrainian reserve soldiers to fight against pro-Russia separatists in an area of eastern Ukraine bordering Russia.
The following year, lawmakers had to cut a parliamentary session short after one politician accused a colleague of taking a bribe. The politician urged his colleague to resign over the bribery allegations, which turned into lawmakers trading blows.