Ukraine president ends hostage drama by endorsing Joaquin Phoenix animal rights movie

Ben Arnold

The President of Ukraine agreed to endorse a movie by Joaquin Phoenix about animal rights in order to bring a hostage situation to a peaceful conclusion yesterday.

44-year-old Maksim Krivosh, who was armed with rifles and explosives, held 13 people hostage on a bus in the north western city of Lutsk in a stand-off which lasted almost 12 hours.

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A bus with people hostage after an armed man seized a bus and took some 10 people hostage in the city centre of Lutsk (Credit: Ukrainian Police Press Office via AP)

According to local media, Krivosh made the hostages watch the movie Earthlings, a documentary from 2005 narrated by Phoenix.

Among his demands were that government and officials from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church post messages admitting to be terrorists.

Krivosh also demanded that President Volodymyr Zelensky endorse Phoenix's movie, which, after speaking with him on the phone, he did.

Posting a short video to Facebook, Zelensky said: “Everybody watch the 2005 documentary Earthlings.”

Earthlings (Credit: Nation Earth)

Just minutes after the video was posted, Krivosh exited the bus and surrendered to Ukranian security services, the SBU.

Zelensky later said: “We were not fighting for ratings. We were fighting for lives.”

Earthlings, directed by Shaun Monson, looks at humanity's use of animals in every sphere from food to scientific research.

The movie, which features hidden camera footage, draws parallels between speciesism and racism and sexism.

Speaking about it in 2007, Phoenix said: “Of all the films I have ever made, this is the one that gets people talking the most. For every one person who sees Earthlings, they will tell three.”

An assailant, who seized a long-distance bus with 10 hostages, lies on the ground after police officers captured him in the city centre of Lutsk (Credit: Ukrainian Police Press Office via AP)