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Football | Uefa Euro Championships

Ukraine cracks down on sex trade



Ukraine's capital Kiev, struggling to shake off a reputation as a new destination for sex tourism, is taking steps to curb prostitution during the month-long European soccer championship, the city government said on Friday.

Ukraine expects some one million foreign football fans to visit when it co-hosts Euro 2012 with Poland next month, and stages the final in Kiev on July 1.

The Kiev city government met officials from the interior ministry and state security service (SBU) this week to discuss measures to curb the sex trade, which is illegal in the former Soviet republic, a senior municipal official said on Friday.

"We have ordered police and the SBU to prevent such activities," Anatoly Holubchenko, deputy head of city government, told reporters.

Promotional booklets produced by private publishers and handed out to tourists in places such as Kiev's airports and hotels often feature advertisements for massage parlours and other thinly veiled sex industry spots.

"The city government has nothing to do with guides offering sex services," Holubchenko said as he presented an official guide for Euro fans which instead invites visitors to see Kiev's ancient Orthodox Christian churches, museums and monuments.

Ukraine, like many other Eastern European nations, saw a surge in illegal activities such as prostitution and human trafficking after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent economic crisis of the 1990s.

It is now trying to improve its image with events such as the Euros, although local women's rights group Femen, famous for its female activists' topless public protests, has objected against hosting the tournament saying it will only boost the sex trade.

Ukraine's foreign ministry last month officially objected to a Dutch television commercial which jokingly urged female viewers to keep their husbands and boyfriends away from Ukrainian women during the Euros.

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