Kosovan MPs come to blows in TV debate

Kosovan MPs come to blows in TV debate
By bne IntelliNews October 2, 2017

MPs from rival parties in Kosovo threw water bottles, accused each other of being rapists before trading blows in a live debate broadcast by Klan Koseva. 

The discussion degenerated into insults and a fistfight after Frashër Krasniqi of the left wing nationalist Vetevendosje party accused Milaim Zeka of the Initiative for Kosovo (Nisma), a member of the ruling coalition, of corruption. 

Relations between the two parties are acrimonious. Vetevendosje had tried to put together a coalition together with the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) after the last general election, but instead the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), Nisma and the Alliance for Kosovo (AAK) — three parties led by former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commanders — formed a government in September.

"You are a rapist!” Zeka told Krasniqi after the Vetevendosje politician tried to accuse him of corruption dating back to Kosovo's war of independence. 

"You are a rapist yourself, shut up!" responded Krasniqi. 

"A rapist, that's what you are. If you want, just continue, but you are a rapist!” shot back Zeka, according to a translation of the debate posted on YouTube. 

Krasniqi went on to accuse Zeka of “criminal business” during Kosovo’s war of independence, but was repeatedly interrupted by the Nisma MP calling him a “thug”, a “dirty animal”, a “cow” and a "monkey". 

The confrontation then escalated as Krasniqi threw water over Zeka, who retaliated by hurling his water bottle, and the two punched each other several times before coverage was finally interrupted and studio staff rushed to pull the two belligerents off each other.

Although Kosovo’s June general election was won by the so-called “war coalition” led by the PDK, Vetevendosje did much better than expected, taking second place, which analysts say indicated how fed up many Kosovans are with established politicians and high level corruption. 

However, the party has a controversial history, with its MPs having repeatedly let off smoke bombs in the parliament in an attempt to block the ratification of a border demarcation deal with Montenegro. Several mass protests by Vetevendosje supporters ended in violence and arrests of party activists. 

The fisticuffs are reminiscent of Russian ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky who was prone to throw water on his opponents in debates and during interviews.

The Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev and owner of Britain's Independent newspaper also famously got into a fight on a TV, knocking his opponent off his stool during an extraordinary outburst on a talk show.