Student Attacks Ukraine Education Minister With Bouquet

KIEV, Ukraine -- A Ukrainian woman hit the country's education minister Dmitro Tabachnyk with a flower bouquet to show her objection to a government ban on student protests Thursday.

Darya Stepanenko was charged with disorderly conduct and will face a fine or an arrest for the term of 15 days.

Tabachnyk was not injured in the incident, which took place during a forum for senior European education officials in the Ukrainian capital Kiev.

The woman, named in media reports as Darya Stepanenko, a student at the country's elite Kyiv-Myhailovska academy, approached Tabachnyk after he had given a speech to a group of European education ministers.

Instead of handing him the flower bouquet, as sometimes happens in Ukraine after top officials make speeches to large audiences, she hurled the flowers in Tabachnyk's face.

Tabachnyk blocked the woman by grabbing her arm, after which she was escorted from the lecture hall by police. He later downplayed the incident.

'She gave me a charming smile ... and then she poked me in the chest with the flowers. I think it was absolutely normal and I'm quite calm about it,' he told reporters.

Tabachnyk is controversial for his support of widespread use of the Russian language, history textbook revisions to describe Ukrainian freedom fighters against the Soviet regime as bandits, and for increasing university fees.

Source: DPA