Ukraine gunman releases hostages as president posts Joaquin Phoenix movie

Kryvosh held the hostages for 12 hours while negotiating with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Ukrainian law enforcement officers take part in a hostage rescue operation in Lutsk (photo credit: REUTERS/PAVLO PALAMARCHUK)
Ukrainian law enforcement officers take part in a hostage rescue operation in Lutsk
A 44-year-old animal rights activist took over a bus in the Ukrainian city of Lutsk, the BBC reported Tuesday night. 

All hostages were eventually released after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on citizens to watch the 2005 movie "Earthlings," narrated by Joaquin Phoenix.

The documentary focuses on humanity's use of other animals as companions, as well as food, clothing and subjects of scientific research.

The man, Maksym Kryvosh, reportedly took over the bus around 9 a.m. local time, shooting off a police drone and throwing explosives that luckily did not detonate. Kryvosh also told authorities he had placed a bomb in a public place, threatening to set it off remotely, the Prosecutor-General's Office reportedly said.

After counter-terrorism forces from Ukraine's state security agency Sluzhba Bezpeky Ukrajiny (SBU) encircled the bus, the man demanded senior politicians publicly state they were terrorists, the media outlet reported.

Police forces reportedly cordoned off the city center and announced a lockdown, while law enforcement searched for Kryvosh's co-conspirators. Several suspects were subsequently arrested, one agreeing to cooperate with police.

The standoff with the security forces reportedly lasted for several hours, with one of the hostages pleading the media that Zelensky negotiate with the gunman.

"For around nine hours, from psychologists to [police] negotiators spoke with [Kryvosh, but] the only thing the man wanted was that his demands be met," Zelensky told local newspaper Ukrajinska Pravda.

Advisors "suggested a special operation, the potential outcome of which would be unknown," Zelensky said. The security forces "would have stormed [the bus] swiftly, and – I am sure – efficiently, but there is always a risk that people might die."

Authorities did not know "who and how many could die, and that is very dangerous," the president added.

"As Ukraine is preparing to go to sleep, a team of police forensics will be working at the scene of the Lutsk terrorist attack all night," Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Anton Herashchenko wrote on Facebook.

"Every item of weaponry, every grenade will be tested for fingerprints," he continued. "Every hair will be found, dust particles and DNA evidence [will be taken] to identify potential accomplices and find the origins of the gunfire."

According to Herashchenko, "a lengthy work on creating the entire picture of the event awaits."

According to the BBC, Internal Minister Arsen Avakov told journalists Kryvosh had several firearms that posed a genuine threat. "A lengthy prison sentence awaits him," Avakov said after the man's arrest.