MOSCOW (AP) — A man who claimed to have a bomb seized a bank in the center of Moscow and took four people hostage Wednesday evening, but he surrendered peacefully a few hours later, police said.
Russian news organizations identified the man as a 55-year-old bankrupt businessman who in recent years had made numerous appeals to the government to do more to help those in bankruptcy.
In a video shown on Russian state television, he was seen inside a Citibank branch with a box wrapped in yellow tape hanging from his neck. He claimed the box was a bomb, but police said it turned out to be a fake.
"I don't want to rob your bank, I want to seize it," the man said in the video.
The hostages, who included bank employees and customers, were freed unharmed. One of them was Gleb Bryanski, the deputy editor of the Tass news agency.
Bryanski said the man who seized the bank "didn't look like a hardened criminal but like a desperate person. He was really nervous, constantly apologizing and smoking a lot."
During the hours-long standoff, police blocked traffic and cordoned off the bank, which is located just up the street from the Moscow Conservatory.