Every democracy has its own quaint traditions surrounding the opening of a new legislative session. A new term in the U.S. House of Representatives begins with the words "the House will come to order" and a swearing-in of the Speaker. In the United Kingdom, the State Opening of Parliament begins with the traditional search for religious minorities to persecute, though in recent years this has taken the form of a pro-forma search for Catholic traitors in the Westminster cellars.
If the frequency of their parliamentary brawls is any indicator, in the Ukraine, parliament opens with the ceremonial punching of the crotch.
This year, the brawl erupted when opposition deputies — who argue that the most recent elections, which produced a narrowly pro-Russian parliamentary majority, were rigged — attempted to block the election of a pro-government Speaker.
At least one deputy, world heavyweight boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko, who heads the UDAR (Punch) party, refused to participate in the melee:
"I understand that many people want Klitschko to launch an offensive but I would like to remind (them) that, for example, in the United States a boxer's fists are considered weapons and the fists of a world champion are considered nuclear weapons," the fighter said. "We will not use these weapons for now."
Some people have no respect for tradition!
Photo by Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images
Tags: Ukraine, United Kingdom