Ukraine security forces smash prostitution ring run by migration officials

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(Reuters) - Ukraine's SBU security service said on Wednesday it had broken up a prostitution ring run by immigration officials, part of a drive to crush corrupt practices and meet Western standards on eliminating graft.

The SBU said the ring had been headed by officials of the Migration Department of the national police, normally responsible for safeguarding the interests of displaced people.

It showed pictures of uniformed officers raiding a building and holding several men in a room as well as large sums of cash and pictures of young women seated on sofas in an apartment.

"These senior officials oversaw a broad 'protection' scheme for prostitution in Kyiv and in other regions," the SBU statement said. The operation generated monthly income equivalent to more than $1.3 million, it said.

The scheme preyed on women aged 18-30 "in a vulnerable emotional state", with victims sent to clients inside Ukraine and abroad and charging from $20 to $270 for services.

In a nightly video address, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy thanked the security services for their "quick reaction to these shameful developments".

Russia's invasion prompted more than 7 million people to leave Ukraine, according to U.N. figures, though nearly half subsequently returned home.

(Reporting by Ron Popeski; Editing by David Ljunggren and Stephen Coates)