2 top Ukrainian officials arrested at cabinet meeting

2 top Ukrainian officials arrested at cabinet meeting
A handout picture taken and released by the Ukrainian Prime Minister press-service in Kiev on March 25, 2015 shows a policeman putting handcuffs on Sergiy Bochkovsky (L), director of Ukraine's emergency services ministry.

KIEV - Two top Ukrainian officials were arrested Wednesday on corruption charges and led away in handcuffs from a televised cabinet meeting as government ministers looked on.

Police detained Sergiy Bochkovsky, director of Ukraine's emergency services ministry, and his deputy Vasyl Stoyetsky, as journalists and photographers looked on, accusing them of "high-level" corruption.

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk issued a warning to other officials suspected of corruption, saying: "This will happen to everyone who breaks the law and sneers at the Ukrainian state."

"When the country is at war and when we are counting every penny, they steal from the people and the state," he added.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said the two men were suspected of syphoning funds off to an offshore haven.

The arrests came hours after President Petro Poroshenko announced the dismissal of powerful oligarch Igor Kolomoisky from his post as regional governor in the key industrial region of Dnipropetrovsk following a dispute over control of the main state oil and gas company.

Ukraine's government is under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to tackle oligarchs and stamp out corruption after it approved a US$17.5 billion rescue package for its war-battered economy earlier this month.

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