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    Eggs and angry protests in Ukraine's Parliament

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    ODN

    by ODN

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    Ukraine's opposition politicians have hurled eggs and smoke bombs inside Ukraine's parliament as the chamber approved an agreement allowing the Russian Navy to extend its stay in a Ukrainian port until 2042.


    Thousands of opposition demonstrators rallied outside the parliament building as deputies from newly-elected President Viktor Yanukovich's coalition approved a 25-year extension to the Russian Black Sea Fleet's base in Crimea.


    Ukrainian nationalists, led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former President Viktor Yushchenko, regard the base as a betrayal of Ukraine's national interests. They wanted to remove it when the existing lease runs out in 2017.


    But parliament ratified the lease extension by 236 votes -- 10 more than the minimum required for it to pass.


    Yanukovich agreed the navy base deal with Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev on April 21 in exchange for a 30 per cent cut in the price of Russian gas to Ukraine -- a boon to Kiev's struggling economy.


    In a parallel discussion on Tuesday morning, the Russian Duma was expected to rubber-stamp the deal, which is being touted by the Kremlin as a diplomatic coup.


    The Russian fleet has been based in Sevastopol since the reign of Catherine the Great in the 18th century. But, under an accord after Ukraine gained independence following the break-up of the Soviet Union, the fleet would have had to leave in 2017.