Ukrainian authorities have detained a group of eight people who allegedly removed a mural by Banksy. The work—depicting a woman holding a fire extinguisher and sporting curlers, a dressing gown and gas mask—was spray-painted onto a war-damaged wall in the city of Hostomel, north-west of Kyiv.
The painting is one of seven new works created across Ukraine in November following the Russian invasion of the country in February, the artist confirmed to The Art Newspaper last month. Other murals include a man said to resemble the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, being thrown to the floor during a judo match with a young boy.
In a statement on Telegram, the head of the Kyiv Police Department, Andrey Nebitov, said that after cutting around the work and removing it from the side of the building, the group “tried to transport it with the help of wooden boards and polyethylene, but were exposed by the police and security forces”.
In a later statement, Nebitov identified the detainees as being between 27 and 60 years old and residents of the cities Kyiv and Cherkasy. An accompanying photo shows the wall with the mural cut out.
A preliminary investigation is currently underway. The work is undamaged and currently being protected by police, Kyiv’s governor Oleksiy Kuleba said on Telegram. “These images are, after all, symbols of our struggle against the enemy,” he added. “We’ll do everything to preserve these works of street art as a symbol of our victory.”
Hostomel—alongside Kyiv, Irpin and Borodyanka where the artist also created murals—is one of the areas hit hardest by the Russian bombardments.