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MOSCOW, August 24. /TASS/. TASS Deputy Editor-in-Chief Gleb Bryansky was one of the hostages in the seized bank office in downtown Moscow.
"The hostage taker did not look like a cruel criminal, but rather like a desperate person. He was very nervous, was constantly apologizing, smoking a lot," Bryansky said.
The Citibank office located at 15 Bolshaya Nikitskaya Street 800 meters from the Kremlin was seized at about 18:30 Moscow Time on Wednesday. The man who called himself Aram Petrosyan, born in 1961, threatened to blow the office up.
On his neck was a box wrapped in yellow sticky tape with wires inside. He told hostages to call the police and asked them to spread information about what was happening by means of social networks. He demanded that the current law on personal bankruptcy be canceled and that "a personal bankruptcy institution" be established to address the problems of bankrupt businessmen.
The hostage taker said he was an entrepreneur and had been manufacturing first aid kits but went bankrupt. He presented the kits to bank employees and visitors who became his hostages.
The man was saying he had 2 million rubles ($30,700) worth of loans, but not in Citibank, and that he had no complaints about that lending institution. He explained that he had chosen Citibank as an international bank to attract the maximum attention.
When the man entered the bank, there were six people inside: three clients, two cashiers and a security guard. A female employee was the first to be freed: she told the hostage taker that she is pregnant and could suddenly feel bad, and he let her go. After that, the security guard fled the building.
By 22:00 Moscow Time, the perpetrator freed all hostages and surrendered to police.
Law enforcers said the perpetrator had no real explosive device. The box was a mockup.
A law enforcement source said the hostage taker demanded that his address be shown on television, after which camera crews of federal TV channels approached him. "After that, he said he had no explosive device, the box contained salt, and he handed it over, saying he was surrendering," the source said.
The man was behaving calmly and apologized for what happened. "He explained that he would not have resorted to that measure should he have settled financial issues with the authorities earlier," law enforcement agencies said.
The suspect has been detained, he will soon be questioned by Investigative Committee investigators.
Criminal proceedings were launched under Article 206 of the Russian Criminal Code (hostage taking).