Feb 20 (Insider) – A journalist punched a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician on live TV during a discussion about Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Video of the incident shows journalist Yuriy Butusov lunging at parliamentary deputy Nestor Shufrych from the pro-Russian party Opposition Platform – For Life, and slapping him in the face before putting him in a headlock. Shufrych is one of 450 deputies in the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament.
Footage of the incident shows the two brawling for nearly a minute, during which time others attempted to intervene and pull them apart to no avail.
The altercation took place during host Savik Shuster’s Freedom of Speech talk show on TV network Ukraina TV, which featured Shufrych on a panel alongside former Ukrainian prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and ex-president Petro Poroshenko, both of whom share pro-Western sentiments.
During the show, Shufrych refused to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin after Yatsenyuk asked him whether Putin was a “murderer and a criminal.”
“Let Ukraine’s authorities deal with that,” Shufrych responded.
Poroshenko mocked Shufrych for his response, and said: “There’s a Russian agent right here in the studio.”
After the altercation, a bloodied Shufrych returned to carry on with the show, and mocked Butusov for “scratching like a girl,” according to The Daily Beast.
The panel show took place amid increasing fears of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Russia has continuously denied that it plans to attack, but has so far amassed as many as 190,000 troops along the Ukraine-Russia border.
President Joe Biden said on Friday he was “convinced” Putin will launch an attack into Ukraine in the coming days.
The news comes amid reports that US intelligence services have obtained information that Russia is drafting lists of political opponents to possibly arrest or assassinate if it invades Ukraine.