A full-on brawl broke out today in Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, following a statement by Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko that the government had divided the nation. The fistfight starts when two deputies from the Svoboda far-right nationalist party, which does not want Russian rule, pushes Symonenko from the podium.
Other Ukraine news centered on the country’s eastern region, which shares a wide border with Russia. Russia’s foreign ministry hinted that U.S. mercenaries are assisting Ukraine government forces in the east, possibly “Greystone Limited, which is currently registered in Barbados and is a part of Academi Corporation, … a candidate for such a gendarme role. It is a similar and probably an affiliated structure of the Blackwater private army, whose staff have been accused of cruel and systematic violations of human rights in different trouble spots many times.” Greystone’s web site is currently offline, but Mother Jones has more information about its origins here.
Also, Ukrainian officials say an unnamed “radical” group is holding 60 people hostage inside a government office in Luhansk, also in Ukraine’s east. (There’s another camera angle on the brawl in that story.) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry countered that it’s, in fact, Russia which has sent agents into eastern Ukraine to “create chaos” it could use as a pretext for more military intervention.