"Drunk" Minister Halts Ukraine Parliament Meeting
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A Ukraine parliament budget hearing was disrupted earlier today when a deputy finance minister was accused of being drunk. After Anatoly Myarkovsky's presentation of the government's 2012 budget performance, deputies from Ukraine's "rowdy opposition" interrupted a Q&A session calling out: "He's drunk." And another shouted: "Anyone within five meters can tell he reeks like someone who has been drinking vodka. Mr Speaker, go and sniff yourself." Speaker Volodymyr Rybak declined, saying it was not his responsibility to check on the behavior of officials or deputies. But he suspended the budget hearing to determine whether or not Myarkovsky was intoxicated. By this time, the accused "drunk" had reportedly left the chamber, and was absent when the hearing resumed several hours later. Finance Minister Yuri Kolobov told deputies that Myarkovsky was in the hospital undergoing medical examination. A deputy from the ruling Regions party said the claims were false. "There wasn't any smell of alcohol coming from the deputy minister," Volodymyr Makeyenko told reporters, "I have known him for 20 years and he's a responsible person. These allegations are just an attempt by the opposition to undermine (parliamentary) proceedings." Ukraine's parliament chamber is known to house a range of antics, which have in the past included egg hurling, punching, bloody faces, torn suits, and deputies carried out on stretchers.