There were scenes of turmoil in Ukraine’s parliament when MPs from the ruling majority walked out, fed up with opposition blocking tactics.
But the Party of the Regions and their Communist allies continued to vote on laws, after setting up their own assembly in another building and banning the opposition from entering.
Opposition leaders were furious, calling it a Soviet-style coup d’etat. The parliamentary speaker, though, said there was nothing illegal.
“The MPs stressed that they have a constitutional majority and according to law I can open the session of parliament,” Volodymyr Rybak told reporters.
The sight of opposition MPs arguing to be allowed into parliamentary proceedings is an image unlikely to be well-received outside Ukraine.
It comes as the government in Kiev is in the middle of negotiating a new IMF bailout of nearly 12-billion euros, and at the same time is trying to convince the European Union that the country is worthy of a free trade agreement.
Our correspondent there, Angelina Kariakina, said: “The latest events in parliament not only endanger democratic processes in Ukraine, but also show that the parliamentary crisis has got deeper. And that could lead to the dismissal of parliament.”