Ukraine's rowdy parliament replaces deputies with children for a day
In this handout photo released by the Press Office of Ukrainian Parliament, a boy dressed in a traditional Ukrainian embroidered top presses the voting button at the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. (Press office of Ukrainian Parliament office handout photo via AP)
KIEV, Ukraine -- The Ukrainian parliament, better known for its frequent fistfights, on Friday replaced its rowdy deputies with children -- but only for one day.
Heated debates at the Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv have in the past spilled over into scuffles. One deputy a week ago lifted Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk from the rostrum and dragged him out, sparking a fistfight involving a few dozen members of parliament.
The Rada on Friday hosted 280 children from all over Ukraine, some of whom had lost their parents in sniper fire on Kyiv's main square in 2014 and in fighting in eastern Ukraine in the past year and a half.
Rada speaker Volodymyr Groisman who was accompanied by Santa Claus and showed to the children how to press the "yes" bottom he would be "very happy" if the deputies were as orderly as the children.
The children, however, did not show quite the unity as Groisman may have hoped: while everyone voted for the mock Bill of Dreams, only 250 out of 280 voted for an imaginary bill the European future.