Ukraine/Russia/Unrest: opposition protests against Russian naval base lease agreement

Thousands of opposition demonstrators rallied outside Ukraine’s parliament building on Tuesday as the bill to extend the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s base in Crimea until 2042 was granted. Inside the parliament, opposition lawmakers created unrest by setting off smoke bombs and throwing eggs on Speaker Volodymyr Litvyn. Reportedly, a brief brawl also broke out between the opposition lawmakers and deputies loyal toPresident Viktor Yanukovich’s coalition government.

Ukrainian opposition considers Russian Naval base as a “betrayal of Ukraine’s national interests” and demand to remove it after the lease expire in 2017. However, President Yanukovich argues that the base would significantly improve ties with Russia and the European security.

According to the agreement between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and President Yanukovich on April 21, Ukraine will receive 30 percent discount of Russian gas in return for the extended lease.