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Ukraine installs glass to protect Banksy war art from thieves, damage


Ukrainian authorities have installed protective glass around images created by the world-famous street artist Banksy in the Kyiv region, in an attempt to protect the art — which appeared late last year — from vandalism and weather damage.

Officials did not explicitly reference the war raging in Ukraine — or whether new security measures would also protect the pieces from Russian bombardment. But they said the transparent, polycarbonate panes would be “impact resistant” and protect against “the influence of external factors” on the murals which were painted on buildings outside Kyiv damaged from Moscow’s onslaught in the early weeks of the war.

Oleg Torkunov, an official with Kyiv’s Regional Military Administration, said Wednesday that the artwork is of “cultural and historical significance for the country as a reminder that light must overcome darkness.”

They will also be protected by additional wireless security systems, ensuring that any reports of theft or damage can be quickly handled. “Now it is important to counter possible attempts at vandalism, which we have already seen recently,” Torkunov said.

In December, Ukrainian police arrested a group of people who attempted to steal a Banksy piece depicting a woman in a dressing gown and gas mask holding a fire extinguisher — later valued at about $250,000. In January, police said the main suspect could face up to 12 years in prison for the attempted theft.

Banksy acknowledged his first mural in the country since the war began, featuring a female gymnast balancing on the rubble of a dilapidated building in Borodyanka, in November. The town, which lies about 30 miles to the northwest of the Ukrainian capital, was besieged by Russian forces in the early weeks of the Feb. 24 invasion but was recaptured by Ukraine in early April.

Days later, the elusive artist posted a video showing the creation of other works in the Kyiv area, including the image that was the subject of the attempted theft.

Earlier this week, Ukraine’s postal service announced the release of stamps featuring another of Banksy’s Ukrainian artwork to mark the first anniversary of the beginning of the Russian invasion, featuring a child throwing down a man resembling Russian President Vladimir Putin in a judo match. The Russian leader holds a black belt in the sport.

Despite being one of the world’s best-known artists, Banksy has managed to maintain his anonymity since the British artist rose to fame in the 1990s. He has also sold artwork to support victims of the war in Ukraine.

In December, the artist put up for sale 50 screen prints featuring a mouse sliding down the side of a box marked “fragile,” with the funds going directly to the Legacy of War Foundation’s work in Ukraine. The British-based international charity, which works with civilians impacted by conflict, later said it had received more than 1 million applications for the limited edition images — including “3,500 hostile attacks from Russian IP addresses.”

The sale was Banksy’s second in support of Ukraine’s war victims: In March the artist sold a print of one of his most famous antiwar pieces, “CND Soldiers,” and donated the proceeds to a children’s hospital in Kyiv.

Banksy’s Ukraine images are not his only ones to have faced removal or destruction. Just last week, a local council in Britain faced backlash when it dismantled a Banksy artwork citing health and safety concerns. It returned the piece shortly after.

And in 2022, a French court found eight thieves guilty of stealing a mural painted on the emergency exit of the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, the site of a deadly 2015 Islamic State attack that claimed dozens of lives.

Banksy unveiled Valentine’s Day street art. A local council dismantled it.

David Stern contributed to this report.

War in Ukraine: What you need to know

The latest: President Biden made a dramatic, unannounced visit to Kyiv on Monday, in a display of robust American support for Ukraine just four days before the anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion. The high-risk visit to the historic Ukrainian capital signaled continued commitment from the United States, Ukraine’s largest financial and military backer. Biden is set to visit Poland next, to discuss Western efforts to help Ukraine resist Russia’s invasion. Read the latest here.

The fight: Russia has been targeting Ukrainian civilian infrastructure with missile and drone strikes since October, often knocking out electricity, heating and water in the country. Despite heavy fighting, no side has made significant gains for months. Western allies agreed to a new wave of elaborate weapons, including Leopard tanks, hoping it may change the balance on the battlefield.

A year of war: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war has set off a historic exodus of his own people, with data showing that at least 500,000, and perhaps nearly 1 million, have left Russia since the start of the conflict in Ukraine. Despite that and extensive sanctions, the Russian economy has remained more resilient than many expected. There are signs, however, that Putin’s luck may be starting to run out.

Photos: Washington Post photographers have been on the ground from the beginning of the war — here’s some of their most powerful work.

How you can help: Here are ways those in the United States can support the Ukrainian people as well as what people around the world have been donating.

Read our full coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for updates and exclusive video.

*This story has not been edited by The Infallible staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.