Ukraine Extends Lease On Russian Naval Base

MOSCOW — After a rowdy debate that at times seemed to resemble a food fight in a high school cafeteria, the Ukrainian Parliament on Tuesday narrowly approved an agreement to allow Russia to extend a lease on a naval base on Ukrainian territory.

MOSCOW — After a rowdy debate that at times seemed to resemble a food fight in a high school cafeteria, the Ukrainian Parliament on Tuesday narrowly approved an agreement to allow Russia to extend a lease on a naval base on Ukrainian territory.

Opponents, who maintained that the deal would infringe on Ukrainian sovereignty, jeered loudly inside the legislative chamber in Kiev, set off smoke bombs and threw eggs at the parliamentary speaker, Volodymyr M. Lytvyn. His aides tried to protect him by holding umbrellas around him.

The agreement, negotiated last week by the new Ukrainian president, Viktor F. Yanukovich, was ratified by 236 members, out of a total of 450.

“This is a black page in the history of our government,” said Yulia V. Tymoshenko, a former prime minister who is now the opposition leader.

Ukrainian politics are contentious, but even so, Tuesday’s vote was unusually unruly, offering a glimpse at the depth of feelings toward Russia.

Mr. Yanukovich, who was elected in February, had pledged to patch up relations with Russia, which had been severely strained under the previous Ukrainian president, Viktor A. Yushchenko.

Mr. Yushchenko, a champion of the interests of people in western Ukraine who believe that Russia is a domineering neighbor, had vowed to not permit Russia to stay at its naval base in the Crimean Peninsula after its lease expired in 2017. Moscow has used the base as the headquarters for its Black Sea Fleet since czarist times.

Mr. Yanukovich has long had close ties to the Kremlin, in part because he is from the Russian-speaking region of eastern Ukraine. Last week, he reached an arrangement with his Russian counterpart, Dmitri A. Medvedev, to extend the lease for another 25 years in return for a 30-percent reduction in the cost of Russian natural gas.

Ukraine’s economy has been faring poorly since the financial crisis began, and the gas price cut is expected to help stabilize its budget.

Russia’s Parliament also approved the agreement on Tuesday, but with far less hubbub. The vote was 410 to 0.

Source: nytimes.com