It’s not everyday that you see your representatives physically attack and intimidate state officials on TV — unless you live in Ukraine, that is.
In the latest bizarre episode to come out of Ukraine, three Members of Parliament from the far-right nationalist party Svoboda, along with a few other flunkies, stormed into the office of the head of Ukraine’s state-owned First National TV channel. Led by MP Igor Miroshnichenko, the group intimidated and shouted at the hapless TV chief, Oleksandr Panteleymonov, for his channel’s to decision to air Russian president Vladimir Putin’s Tuesday speech on Crimean separation.
The Svoboda members decided this was too pro-Russia for their tastes and demanded Panteleymonov’s immediate resignation for being “Moscow trash.” After a few minutes of heated discussion, things turned violent as Miroshnichenko grabbed the TV head and threw him towards his desk. Miroshnichenko and another MP, Bohdan Beniuk, then began beating Pantelymonov while he was seated in his chair and demanded that he sign a letter of resignation.
“You lied to Ukrainians using their own money,” Miroshnichenko shouted in the video, according to an NBC report.
The TV chief later signed the letter after the cameras stopped rolling.
Ukraine’s interim prime minister, Aresniy Yatsenyuk, was quick to condemn the incident, calling it “unacceptable for a democratic society.” Even the leader of Svoboda, Oleh Tyahnybok, condemned the attack as “inappropriate.” This is in spite of the fact that it was Svoboda’s own spokesman who released the video to the public.
The nation’s prosecutor general investigating the case happens to also be a Svoboda member — but is somehow expected to treat the incident impartially, according to The Kyiv Post.
Svoboda has been labelled as a “neo-fascist” party accused of promoting anti-Semitism. Miroshnichenko has previously made headlines for calling Ukrainian-born actress Mila Kunis a “dirty Jewess.” He is considered to be one of the top leaders of the political party and was a member of parliament before the toppling of Viktor Yanukovych’s regime back in February.