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Published: Tuesday April 8, 2014 MYT 5:41:26 PM
Updated: Tuesday April 8, 2014 MYT 5:42:53 PM

Brawl in Ukraine parliament as communist supports pro-Russia protesters

KIEV (Reuters) - Deputies in the Ukrainian parliament brawled in the chamber on Tuesday after a communist leader accused nationalists of playing into the hands of Russia by adopting extreme tactics early in the Ukrainian crisis.

Two deputies from the Svoboda far-right nationalist party took exception to the charges by communist Petro Symonenko and seized him while he was talking from the rostrum.

His party supporters rallied to his defence and a brawl broke out with deputies from other parties joining in and trading punches.

Symonenko stirred nationalist anger when, referring to pro-Russian protesters who seized buildings in eastern Ukraine, he said nationalists had set a precedent earlier this year by seizing public buildings in protest at the rule of ousted President Viktor Yanukovich.

Now, he said, armed groups were attacking people who wanted to defend their rights by peaceful means.

"You are today doing everything to intimidate people. You arrest people, start fighting people who have a different point of view," he said, before being pulled away from the rostrum by the Svoboda deputies.

Symonenko did not appear to have been hurt in the brawl involving other deputies. But one deputy later resumed his seat in the chamber with scratches on his face clearly showing.

The communists backed Yanukovich and his Regions Party through the three months leading up to him fleeing the country on February 21 after more than 100 people were shot dead by police snipers in Kiev.

(Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Writing By Richard Balmforth; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

(This story has been refiled to add the dropped letter 's' in 'supports' in headline)

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