Men Arrested After Allegedly Robbing 100,000 Protective Masks at Gunpoint in Ukraine

Victor Westerkamp
By Victor Westerkamp
March 18, 2020COVID-19share
Men Arrested After Allegedly Robbing 100,000 Protective Masks at Gunpoint in Ukraine
A man holds a package of protective masks in Singapore on Feb. 1, 2020. (Feline Lim/Reuters)

Three men were arrested in Ukraine after allegedly robbing 100,000 protective masks at gunpoint in Kiev, Ukraine.

The suspects posed as members of the state security forces when they attacked and stole the masks from a private seller who had stored them in his car on Tuesday.

“Instead of negotiating the purchase and sale conditions, the criminals attacked [the seller], took the masks and beat the man,” Kiev police chief Andriy Kryshchenko said. “Wearing police uniforms and threatening to use firearms, the criminals took possession of the whole batch of goods.”

Iryna Venedyktoval, Ukraine’s general prosecutor, said the suspects made the victim lie on the ground during the robbery, according to Lehren.

The suspects, aged 26 to 42, could face for up to 10 years in prison. The estimated value of the stolen protective gear is about $48,000, according to the outlet.

Protective Masks
Protective masks are sold at a Manhattan hardware store in New York City on Feb. 26, 2020.(Scott Heins/Getty Images)
Ukraine Mask Sowers
Employees work in a local sewing workshop producing protective masks in Donetsk, Ukraine, on March 18, 2020 (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

In most pharmacies in the country, masks are out of stock, and price gouging is rampant in some areas.

Also on Tuesday, all bars, restaurants, cultural places, and shopping centers were shut down. By the next day, all public transport in the Ukraine was halted in an effort to curb the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.

NTD refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

Ukraine has had 14 confirmed cases and two deaths, according to data provided by John Hopkin’s University.

The government has encouraged people to stay at home wherever possible except to buy food and medicine, but has stopped short of introducing curfews. Following a series of emergency steps introduced by President Volodymyr Zelensky, parliament in a special session on Tuesday approved measures including fines and prison sentences for people who broke mandatory quarantine.

Kyiv closes down on public transport
Passengers get into a bus at a surface transport station in Kiev, Ukraine, on March 18, 2020 (Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)

In the west, in the otherwise touristic village of Lviv, streets are empty and most shops are closed.

“Of course, no one is happy about the restaurant shutdown,” said Mark Zarhin, a restaurant owner, according to Reuters.

“It is like a perfect storm in Lviv. We face both ‘plague’ and war today,” Zarhin said. “It is the worst. But it’s not the fact that we close the restaurants that is bad, but the fact that we don’t know for how long. We cannot predict anything.”

“There’s little harm in it,” Eric Toner of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security told The Hill, referring to wearing masks to protect against infection. “But it’s not likely to be very effective in preventing it.”

Reuters contributed to this report

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