The ringleader of a group that allegedly tried to steal a Banksy mural from a wall in Ukraine could face up to 12 years in prison, the country’s interior ministry said in a statement on Monday.
The group successfully removed the mural from the wall before being detained. Credit: Andrey Nebitov/Telegram
The mural, which depicts a woman in a gas mask with a fire extinguisher, is one of several works completed by the British street artist in cities across Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv, following Russia’s invasion.
According to police, the group removed the mural from a wall and intended to transport it off the site on wooden planks. The suspects, who come from Kyiv and the central Ukrainian city of Cherkasy, were “detained on the spot,” the head of the Kyiv region’s military administration, Oleksii Kuleba, said at the time of their arrest in early December.
“These images are a symbol of our fight against the enemy,” Kuleba said on his Telegram channel after the arrests, adding that the mural itself was undamaged. “These are the stories about the support and solidarity of the whole civilized world with Ukraine. Let’s do everything to preserve the works of street art as a symbol of our future victory.”
Banksy shares behind-the-scenes video from Ukraine
Monday’s statement said the suspects were arrested “thanks to the vigilance of local residents, the police and other security forces.” The ministry also said that the subsequent investigation valued the artwork at more than 9 million hryvnias ($244,000).
The mural was taken from a building badly damaged by Russian shelling. Credit: Andrey Nebitov/Telegram
In a video posted to Instagram, Banksy showed footage of his time in the country and concluded with a message that read: “In solidarity with the people of Ukraine.”