'Drunk' minister halts Ukraine parliament

2013-06-18 14:39

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Kiev - A parliamentary hearing on Ukraine's budget was suspended on Tuesday when opposition deputies alleged that a deputy finance minister presenting the budget report was drunk.

Anatoly Myarkovsky, first deputy finance minister, spoke for 10 minutes on the government's budget performance in 2012.

But when questions were invited, deputies from Ukraine's rowdy opposition called out "He's drunk". One shouted: "Anyone within five metres can tell he reeks of someone who has been drinking vodka. Mr Speaker, go and sniff for yourself".

Speaker Volodymyr Rybak declined, saying it was not up to him to check on the behaviour of government officials or deputies. But he suspended the budget hearing until it had been clarified whether Myarkovsky had been under the influence or not.

Myarkovsky himself left the chamber as Rybak was speaking. There was no formal word from his office.

A deputy from the ruling Regions party, Volodymyr Makeyenko, sprang to Myarkovsky's defence.

"There wasn't any smell of alcohol coming from the deputy minister. I have known him for 20 years and he's a responsible person - these allegations are just an attempt by the opposition to undermine [parliamentary] proceedings," he told journalists.

Ukraine's parliament, where the Regions party holds a small majority against a boisterous opposition which is seeking the release of ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko from jail, is often a theatre for physical tussles and fist-fights among deputies.

Read more on:    ukraine

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