Ukraine Parliament Reappoints PM, Elects Speaker After Brawls

Posted December 13th, 2012 at 10:00 am (UTC-5)
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Ukraine's newly elected parliament has approved the president's re-nomination of Mykola Azarov as prime minister and selected a new speaker, despite violent brawls between ruling party and opposition supporters.

Azarov was voted in for a second term Thursday by 252 deputies in the 450-seat chamber. Azarov, a close ally of President Viktor Yanukovych, has served as prime minister since March 2010.

Earlier Thursday, opposition lawmakers shoved and wrestled deputies from the pro-government Party of Regions in an attempt to prevent them from holding a vote on Ukraine's parliament speaker.

Despite their efforts, Volodymyr Rybak was named to the post.

The opposition comprises lawmakers loyal to former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the far-right Svoboda Party, and a group of liberal politicians led by boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko.

The Party of Regions holds a slim majority in parliament after October elections that observers say were marred by fraud.

Western observers criticized Ukraine's October legislative elections as unfair because President Yanukovych's main rival, Ms. Tymoshenko, and other opposition members are imprisoned and unable to run. Also, observers criticized what they called a lack of transparency in the vote count.