KYIV (Reuters) – Ukrainian security forces disguised as part of a TV news crew captured a suspected hostage-taker at a bank branch in Kyiv on Monday, while he was lounging in a chair speaking to journalists whose presence he had demanded along with coffee and cigarettes.
The man had entered the bank around midday, telling employees he had a bomb in his backpack and asking them to call the police, according to deputy interior minister Anton Gerashchenko.
Bank staff left the building while the head of the branch remained as a hostage, he said, adding that the suspect was from Uzbekistan.
Television footage showed him sitting down, with one leg resting on a chair opposite him that contained the backpack.
A man in a police vest came into the room and announced that, as per the suspect’s demands, “coffee, cigarettes, journalists” had been brought.
In an exchange broadcast live on television, the man was heard to claim to be a holy spirit and criticized the authorities, saying President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had not delivered on his promises.
“Presidents are puppets, they’re suckers,” he said, shortly before the security forces grabbed him.
The hostage was released unharmed.
“The suspect has been detained. An urgent investigation is underway,” said Sergey Pun, a spokesman for the security service. “The building is being checked by explosives experts for explosive devices.”
It was Ukraine’s third hostage incident in recent weeks.
Last month, an armed man was arrested after holding people captive on a bus for hours before freeing them after Zelenskiy agreed to publicise a 2005 animal rights documentary narrated by Hollywood actor Joaquin Phoenix..
On July 23 another man took a senior police officer hostage in the city of Poltava before being shot dead by police on Saturday. The hostage was unharmed.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Natalia Zinets and Sergei Karazy; writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Mark Heinrich, David Holmes and Giles Elgood)