By Vincent Barone
New York Post
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s promotion of a 2005 animal rights documentary starring Joaquin Phoenix led to the end of a dangerous hostage situation on a bus in northwest Ukraine on Tuesday.
Maksym Kryvosh, 44, an animal rights activist and ex-con armed with guns and explosives, allegedly seized the small bus on Tuesday — only to release the 10 hostages remaining onboard and turn himself over to authorities after the president made the intervention.
The Russian-born suspect was detained following a more than 12-hour standoff shortly after Zelensky posted a brief video in compliance with one of his demands, saying, “Everyone should watch the 2005 film ‘Earthlings.’”
The bizarre six-second promotional video was posted to the president’s Facebook page, AP News reported.
Kryvosh allegedly called police himself at 9:25 a.m. local time after commandeering the vehicle and introducing himself as Maksym Plokhoy, which translates as “Maksym the Bad One,” Deputy Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko said, according to NBC News.
Kryvosh is an animal rights activist who helped protect stray dogs, Ukrainian media reported.
Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Kryvosh was “an unstable man who painted his vision of the world and invented a revenge for it.”
“He had his own vision of justice and the value of human life,” Avakov added.
Zelensky later praised law enforcement officers for saving the hostages, who were freed unharmed.
“Human life is the most important value,” he said on Facebook. “Now families can finally hug their relatives who spent the entire day on the bus in anguish.”
The bus seizure in Lutsk forced police to seal off the center of the city, which is about 250 miles west of the capital, Kiev.
Kryvosh at one point allegedly threw explosives out of the bus’s window, though no one was hurt. He also allegedly fired several shots at a police drone.
Kryvosh is an ex-convict who has reportedly been convicted twice on charges that include robbery, fraud and illegal arms handling and spent 10 years in prison.