Ukraine hostage standoff ends after president promotes Joaquin Phoenix film

Ukraine hostage standoff ends after president promotes Joaquin Phoenix film
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A daylong hostage standoff in Ukraine reportedly ended on Tuesday after the country’s president consented to a gunman’s demand and shared a video recommending a 2005 documentary film narrated by Joaquin Phoenix. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recommended the film in a video shared on Facebook after a man in the city of Lutsk seized a bus and held 13 hostages for more than 12 hours, according to The Guardian

The hostage situation began early Tuesday morning after Maksym Kryvosh, 44, reportedly opened fire and threw a grenade at a police drone. Kryvosh, armed with an automatic firearm and explosives, boarded a bus and told police that he was taking 13 passengers hostage, ABC News reported. The man also claimed that he had rigged the bus with explosives. 

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While negotiating with authorities, Kryvosh demanded that some government officials admit to being terrorists, among other things. He was said to be speaking with journalists and monitoring social media amid the standoff before his account was deactivated. 

A spokesperson for the Ukrainian president's office told The Guardian that Zelensky spoke with the gunman before fulfilling his request to publicly recommend the Earthlings, a film focusing on society's use of animals for food, clothing and entertainment. 

“The film Earthlings from 2005. Everyone should watch it,” Zelenskiy said in the video, according to an English translation.

The gunman surrendered in the late evening. None of the hostages were harmed during the standoff. 

Zelensky deleted the Facebook video shortly after the hostage crisis concluded. In a statement shared on Twitter, he congratulated "those who fought all day for the liberation of people in Lutsk and, in fact, for their lives."

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"We all experienced and followed the developments, worked out plans and changed them according to the situation. Human life is the most important value. We have not lost anyone," he said. 

Kryvosh is a Russian-born animal rights activist who has previously been convicted in Ukraine for  fraud and illegal possession of arms and explosives, according to reports.