By Emily McGarvey
A mural by renowned graffiti artist Banksy remains intact after a group of people tried to steal it from the wall of a war-torn building in Ukraine.
The group cut off a section of board and plaster bearing the artwork of a woman in a gas mask, officials said.
Police said a number of people were arrested at the scene in Hostomel and the painting has been retrieved.
The graffiti is undamaged and police are protecting it, the governor of Kyiv region, Oleksiy Kuleba, said on Telegram.
“These images are, after all, symbols of our struggle against the enemy,” he said. “These are stories about the support and solidarity of the entire civilized world with Ukraine.
“We’ll do everything to preserve these works of street art as a symbol of our victory.”
Police published images of the yellow wall in Hostomel, with a large patch cut through to the brickwork.
Banksy released video footage of his artwork in Ukraine last month, showing works that feature people doing daily tasks on buildings devastated by shelling in Ukraine.
The towns in which the artwork is featured were among the worst hit at the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including Hostomel, Horenka and Borodyanka.
The footage also shows a man’s hand creating the art – but in true Banksy style, his face is never shown.
One mural shows a gymnast doing a handstand amid debris, in Borodyanka. Another depicts a Vladimir Putin lookalike being thrown to the floor by a child in a judo match.
Banksy is one of the world’s most famous artists, who rose to fame with stencilled designs around Bristol in the early 1990s, but despite a worldwide following, the artist’s identity remains unknown.
Often described as “elusive” and “secretive” by the press, the “guerrilla street artist” has a legion of fans that includes A-list celebrities.
It is not the first time a Banksy artwork has been targeted. In 2019, a hooded gang stole a Banksy artwork from an emergency door at the Bataclan music hall in Paris with angle grinders and it was later found in Italy.
Other Banksy murals, for example some in the UK, have been covered in plastic sheets to protect against damage or vandalism.