In a video that has gone viral internationally, a Russian official is seen ripping a Ukrainian national flag from the hands of a Ukrainian lawmaker at a regional conference – and then being chased and receiving punches to the head in return.
The incident occurred yesterday, May 4, at the 61st Plenary Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Community (PABSEC) held in Ankara, Turkey.
In mobile phone video that has so far received more than 1.4 million views on Twitter, Oleksandr Marikovsky, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, appears to be posing with a female representative. He is holding up a Ukrainian national flag, as they stand in front of an official display for the event.
A fight has broken out between Russian and Ukrainian delegates at a conference in Turkey.— 9News Australia (@9NewsAUS) May 5, 2023
A Russian delegate grabbed a flag from the hands of a Ukrainian MP, sparking the physical altercation. #9News pic.twitter.com/5vGsaDM83i
From out of Marikovsky’s eyeline, a middle-aged, gray-haired man wearing an ID badge lanyard and a dark suit approaches them, forcefully yanks the blue-and-gold flag with trident symbol from the MP’s hands, and strides away with it toward a common area of the hotel where the conference was being held.
In the background, loud laughter can be heard from a female who appears to be filming the incident. TASS, the Russian-state owned media agency, later reported that the video was made by the acting head of Russia’s permanent delegation to the PABSEC, Olga Timofeyeva, which suggests that the situation may have been premeditated.
Timofeyeva is a member of the State Duma of Russia – its national parliament – from the United Russia Party. The party holds 72 percent of the Duma’s seats and is de facto run by autocrat Vladimir Putin. It strongly supports Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
In the video, the flag thief, later identified by as the secretary of the Russian PABSEC delegation, Russian diplomat Valery Stavitsky, is then seen being chased by the Ukrainian parliamentarian.
While moving, Marikovsky lands four glancing blows to Stavitsky’s head, neck and shoulder area. The Ukrainian then rips the flag back out of the thief’s hand, as security and observers come to intervene in the altercation.
Stavitsky is then seen on the video being escorted away from the scene by another man, who appears to be a colleague. He is seen adjusting his eyeglasses and appears disoriented.
As the video went viral, social media users spoke out against Stavitsky, criticizing his provocative actions. Some praised the Ukrainian lawmaker for fighting back and called Stavitsky “small and weak.”
Other social media users compared the incident to the ongoing conflict between the two nations.
A scandal at the PABSEC summit in #Turkey - the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation.— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) May 4, 2023
In the first video, Ukrainian MPs unfolded the flag of their country during the speech of the Russian representative, after which a scandal broke out and the Turkish… pic.twitter.com/kDazVGHwkC
TASS described the incident as an “attack.” Its report made no mention of Stavitsky grabbing the flag from Marikovsky to instigate the incident.
“We are at the hotel, sorting everything out and taking all the necessary measures. The consul and a doctor are here; we are providing the necessary assistance,” a Russian embassy official is quoted by TASS.
The altercation between Marikovsky and Stavitsky came after tempers flared when the Ukrainian delegation stood up with national and patriotic flags during a speech by Timofeyeva. This led to some pushing and shoving. Turkish convenors of the meeting apparently insisted on the removal of the Ukrainian flag thereafter.
At least one Russian propaganda outlet featured the following headline for its coverage of the incident: “Ukrainian Nazis beat up a State Duma worker in Ankara.”
“One of the representatives of the Russian delegation grabbed a yellow and blue rag and hurried to get out of the rostrum, but Marikovsky attacked him with his fists and managed to hit him several times in the face before the security service separated them,” PolitNavigator’s coverage continued.
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