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Banksy confirms seven new murals in Ukraine
Three days after Banksy debuted his latest mural on Instagram, spray painted on the wall of a bombed building in the city of Borodianka, Ukraine, the anonymous street artist confirmed that he completed seven new works in Ukraine in total.
Banksy confirmed the news to The Art Newspaper after a series of murals suspected to be his appeared in the liberated Ukrainian city, which is located about 35 miles northwest of Kyiv. Other works are located in the capital and other cities in the region.
The first artwork to be identified, which went viral over the weekend, shows a female gymnast balancing on a pile of rubble on the side of a building damaged by Russian strikes.
The graffiti artist posted three images of the piece Friday on social media, with a simple caption reading "Borodyanka, Ukraine" — an alternative spelling for the town's name.
Another artwork depicts a little boy, wearing a martial arts uniform tied with a black belt, flipping a grown man onto his back. Some have connected the image to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose honorary black belt was revoked earlier this year by World Taekwondo, though Banksy has not publicly commented on the image or its meaning.
Other murals showed two children using a metal tank trap as a seesaw, and a woman in hair curlers and a gas mask holding a fire extinguisher.
Borodianka was hit particularly hard by Russian airstrikes and shelling in the early days of the country's invasion of Ukraine, with many buildings reduced to piles of rubble by long-range attacks. It was home to 13,000 people before the war, but most fled after Russia's invasion. What was left of the city was then occupied by Russian forces, who moved in on February 28.
The town came back into Ukrainian control on April 1, and returning residents found their houses ransacked and shops pillaged with windows broken and contents stolen. It has since been the focus of reconstruction efforts, with several tower blocks demolished as a result of damage caused by the fighting.
The series is the first set of Banksy artworks to pop up since last summer's "Great British Spraycation," which saw the enigmatic artist leave behind his signature pop art commentary at sites across a number of British coastal towns.
Last year, the artist also focused his efforts on raising money for social and political causes, auctioning a painting for a record-breaking $23.1 million for UK healthcare organizations, and selling t-shirts in support of anti-racist protestors arrested for toppling a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol. (The protesters were cleared of charges in January.)
After confirming his authorship of the gymnast mural, many Ukrainians and supporters of the country in the face of its invasion thanked the artist in social media comments and posts.
"This is such a historic moment for our country, that people like Banksy and other famous figures are coming here and showing the world what Russia has done to us," a Kyiv resident told Al Jazeera English in a video posted to Twitter on Sunday.
CNN's Teele Rabane contributed to this report.