Eight people have been arrested for the theft of a mural by elusive British street artist Banksy from a wall on the outskirts of Kiev, Ukrainian authorities have said.
The stencil image of a person in a nightgown and gas mask holding a fire extinguisher next to the charred remains of a window in the town of Hostomel went missing on Friday, they said.
“A group of people tried to steal a Banksy mural. They took the work out of the wall of a house destroyed by the Russians,” Kyiv Governor Oleksiy Kuleba said in a message to Telegram.
He attached the picture from a hole in the wall where the picture had been.
“Several people were detained on the spot,” he said. “The statue is in good condition and in the hands of the authorities.”
Other works in the area that are also believed to be Banksy’s work are under police protection, he said.
Kiev police chief Andriy Nebytov said eight people had been identified as possible persons involved and a preliminary investigation into the matter had been opened.
“All were between 27 and 60 years old. They are residents of Kiev and Cherkasy,” some 200 km southeast of the capital, he said.
Last month, Banksy posted an image of the stencil of a gymnast performing a handstand on the wall of a destroyed building in Borodianka, northwest of the capital.
He then posted a video of several more of his artwork, including the figure in a gas mask holding the fire extinguisher.
Others were the portraits of a bearded man scrubbing in a bathtub, and a young boy in a karate outfit knocking his adult opponent to the ground.
Along with cities such as Bucha and Irpin, Borodianka and Hostomel were badly hit by Russian bombing after the invasion of Ukraine in February.