Gunman releases hostages after Ukraine president agrees to endorse vegan film

Thirteen hostages were released by an ‘unstable’ armed man after the Ukrainian president agreed to share a vegan documentary online.

The gunman stormed a bus in the city of Lutsk, north Ukraine, taking all the passengers hostage in a stand-off that lasted for more than 12 hours.

He went on to make a series of bizarre demands from local politicians and throw explosives at police. 

Authorities have identified him as Maksim Krivosh, a 44-year-old Ukrainian born in Russia, according to reports. 

Three of the hostages, including a pregnant woman, were released first, following negotiations with the first deputy chief of national police, Yevhen Koval.

Shortly after, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy posted a brief video message on his Facebook page, urging Ukrainians to watch the 2005 film Earthlings – complying with one of Krivosh’s requests. 

The film, narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, chronicles the day-to-day practices of large industries, and how they rely on animals for profit.

Minutes later, the gunman surrendered to police and authorities said all 13 hostages were freed.

Speaking to reporters after the drama ended, Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov described the assailant as an ‘unstable man who invented his own world’.

Police sealed off the centre of Lutsk, 250 miles west of the capital Kyiv, during the incident. 

At one point, explosives were thrown out of the bus window, but no-one was hurt. Shots were also fired at a police drone. 

The man called the police himself at 9:25am local time after taking control of the vehicle and introduced himself as Maksim Plokhoy, Deputy Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko said on Facebook.

According to Mr Gerashchenko, police later identified him as Krivosh – a man who has reportedly been convicted twice on a wide range of charges – robbery, fraud, illegal arms handling – and spent a total of 10 years behind bars.

According to reports, Krivosh tried to reach out to journalists through hostages and their phones, demanding that they spread the word about his demands and get more reporters to arrive at the scene.

In a Telegram account reportedly belonging to him, Krivosh also demanded that senior Ukrainian officials release statements on their social media pages calling themselves terrorists.

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