Ukraine Journalist Hurls Shoes At Politician In NATO Protest

ODESSA, Ukraine -- A Ukrainian journalist hurled a shoe at a local politician Friday to protest against remarks concerning NATO. The reporter in southern Ukraine's Odessa tossed his footwear at Oleh Soskin, an official presiding at the opening of a NATO information centre in the Black Sea port, the Interfax news agency reported.

Dr. Oleh Soskin

Odessa-based Revizor, a website devoted to controversial regional news, reported the incident took place at the city's Ushansky University, where Soskin reportedly was giving a speech on the need for Ukraine to join NATO.

ATV television news reporter Ihor Dmitriv reportedly took exception to Soskin's assertion during a speech that Ukrainian women were the more intelligent members of the Ukrainian population, and so would be more inclined to join NATO than men.

Dmitriv, according to the report, questioned Soskin's sexual orientation and hurled a single shoe, striking but not injuring the lecturer.

Soskin and Dmitriv, according to a witness, then exchanged insults, but members of the predominantly female audience separated the pair before blows were thrown. Neither Soskin nor Dmitriv was injured, according to the reports.

Soskin is a member of a nationalist political party supporting close Ukrainian relations with Europe, and an antogonistic relations with Russia.

Dmitriv subsequently told fellow Odessa reporters he threw his shoe at Soskin as Ukraine's senior political leaders "were crazy about NATO," and the only means of changing their minds was by hurling objects at them.

"A shoe is going to become a leading means (for common people) to influence their leaders," Dmitriv predicted.

The attack closely paralleled a Sunday incident when Iraqi television reporter Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw a pair of loafers at US President George Bush during a Bagdad press conference.

The population of the former Soviet republic Ukraine strongly opposes joining NATO, partly because of lingering loyalties to Moscow, but also because most Ukrainians consider NATO military operations in Serbia and Afghanistan unjustified invasions.

Ukraine's pro-West leadership nonetheless heavily favours early Ukrainian membership in NATO because of fears of increasing Russian military power, and hopes that a pro-NATO Ukrainian government would have increased chances of foreign aid to deal with the effects of the world financial crisis.

Source: DPA

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