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Ukrainian Parliamentarian Accused Of Striking Female Lawmaker With Bottle

Ukrainian parliamentarian Oleksandra Kuzhel was reportedly concussed after a violent altercation with a male colleague in the Verkhovna Rada. (file photo)
Ukrainian parliamentarian Oleksandra Kuzhel was reportedly concussed after a violent altercation with a male colleague in the Verkhovna Rada. (file photo)

Fighting in Ukraine's parliament is all fun and games until a female lawmaker gets hit in the eye with a glass bottle.

The Fatherland party is boycotting parliament and a cross-party grouping of women in the Verkhovna Rada is demanding that a male lawmaker leave office after Fatherland deputy Oleksandra Kuzhel was struck with a bottle during an argument.

The 62-year-old Kuzhel suffered a black eye and a concussion as a result of the November 5 incident, which took place during an argument with People's Front party deputy head Andriy Teteruk after the day's session had ended.

The clash outside the office of speaker Volodymyr Groysman was the second physical altercation between Kuzhel and Teteruk this week.

"According to a witness -- lawmaker … Serhiy Vlasenko -- Teteruk made insulting remarks about Fatherland lawmakers and personally offended Kuzhel and hit her on the head with a glass bottle," Fatherland's press office said on November 6.

Fatherland members will not return to parliament until Teteruk surrenders his seat, according to the party. Speaking during a video link during parliament's November 6 session, Fatherland leader Yulia Tymoshenko condemned the incident, saying "it's like attacking your own mother."

A group of women lawmakers from different parties also took up the cause during the session, gathering at the podium in a show of solidarity with Teteruk in attendance.

WATCH: Female Deputies Demand Andriy Teteruk's Resignation

Female Ukrainian Deputies Call For Teteruk's Resignation
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Olha Chervakova, a lawmaker from President Petro Poroshenko's Bloc demanded that Teteruk "voluntarily give up his seat" over the "shameful and "unacceptable attack on a 62-year-old woman." She also demanded that an investigation be conducted and that Teteruk's parliamentary immunity be lifted.

Teteruk has provided a different version of events, saying that he was defending himself and did not mean to hit Kuzhel.

Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Teteruk
Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Teteruk

He told the Obozrevatel news site that Kuzhel had tried to hit him with her handbag. He was holding a bottle of water at the time, and was trying to pour water on Kuzhel to prevent her from hitting him, but the bottle accidentally caught her in the face.

Teteruk was initially remorseful, writing in a public apology on Facebook that, despite the high emotions during the altercation, "I truly repent."

The post was later removed, and Teteruk stopped short of apologizing while lawmakers discussed the incident on November 6.

"I'm ready to contribute with investigators so that Ukrainian society knows under what circumstances and why this incident happened," Teteruk said.

He told journalists on the sidelines of the session that he was willing to vote in favor of lifting his parliamentary immunity during the course of the investigation.

The incident sparked massive social media response with many posting comments and photos, including one of Kuzhel holding an ice bag to her head.

Hromadske.TV tweeted photos of what it described as security guards inside the parliament building and police vehicles outside as Kuzhel was being taken to a hospital.

"There are three ambulances in the Rada… and many policemen. The main heroes of the night: Teteruk, Kuzhel, and the bottle," Larisa Sargan of the Fatherland party press office wrote on Facebook.

Some reposted photos and a YouTube video of a November 3 confrontation between the two lawmakers, in which Kuzhel interrupted Teteruk's speech before parliament. Kuzhel is shown coming to the podium as Teteruk speaks, and pulls his arm and the microphone as she demands an apology.

WATCH: Andriy Teteruk And Oleksandra Kuzhel Argue In Parliament

Ukraine's parliament is no stranger to brawls with lawmakers throwing punches, eggs, and even smoke grenades to prove their points.

A speech made in Russian sparked fighting in the Rada in 2013 and a debate over the 2014 budget turned into a brawl, leaving several lawmakers bloodied.

In another recent incident, eggs and smoke grenades were thrown during a 2010 parliamentary debate over the Russian Black Sea Fleet's lease of the Sevastopol naval base.

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    Farangis Najibullah

    Farangis Najibullah is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL who has reported on a wide range of topics from Central Asia, including the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the region. She has extensively covered efforts by Central Asian states to repatriate and reintegrate their citizens who joined Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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