Ukrainian police entered a government meeting in Kiev and, in front of the cameras, arrested two high-ranking officials on suspicion of corruption.

The two men, head of the state emergency services Sergiy Bochkovsky and his first deputy Vasyl Stoyetsky, were led from the room in handcuffs in what was clearly a staged move to reap maximum publicity for the government's drive against corruption. They were detained for alleged graft involving off-shore companies.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, who spoke to the process investigator before the men were led away, said Interior Minister Arsen Avakov had just informed him of the allegations.

Avakov later told journalists that it had been decided to carry out the detentions at the government meeting "as a preventive vaccination against all those corrupt people who sadly number many among us in power".

Yatseniuk's government is at pains to show it is sparing no efforts to carry out painful reforms and stamp out deep-rooted corruption, so as to go on receiving Western aid that is helping the near-bankrupt economy recover from years of mismanagement and a conflict with Russian-backed separatists in the east.

Yatseniuk announced that large-scale investigations had been launched against high-ranking state officials and punitive action had been taken against high-ranking officials in the tax police, the customs service, the state fiscal service, the railways and other state companies. He said he had also given permission for investigations to be carried out in the cabinet of ministers.