Skip to main content
//empty //empty

A passenger bus that was seized by an unidentified person is seen in Lutsk, Ukraine, on July 21, 2020.

MYKOLA MARTYNIUK/Reuters

All 13 people taken hostage on a bus in western Ukraine by a man armed with guns and a grenade were freed on Tuesday evening after a standoff with police ended without casualties, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said.

Police have arrested the suspected hostage taker, whom the state security service (SBU) identified as 44-year-old Maksym Kryvosh. Avakov said Kryvosh had served time in prison and the SBU said had propagated “extremist views.”

In a surreal twist to secure the hostages’ release, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he spoke to Kryvosh by phone and agreed to one of his demands, to promote the 2005 animal rights documentary “Earthlings,” narrated by Hollywood actor Joaquin Phoenix.

Story continues below advertisement

Zelenskiy did so in a six-second clip posted on the presidential Facebook page, which was subsequently deleted.

“I congratulate all those who fought all day for the release of the people in Lutsk and, in fact, for their lives,” Zelenskiy said in a statement after the hostages were freed.

The SBU published a picture of Kryvosh sprawled on the ground with security personnel standing over him after his arrest. Avakov said an accomplice of Kryvosh was detained in the eastern city of Kharkiv.

Police had blocked off the city centre with armed officers, cars and an armoured personnel carrier while they tried to persuade Kryvosh to free the hostages in a day-long stand-off.

Photos showed a small bus parked in the middle of an empty street, with at least two windows smashed and others covered with curtains. Police said Kryvosh threw a grenade out of the bus; Avakov said Kryvosh had fired shots out of the bus at police.

In posts on social media, Kryvosh had demanded that senior Ukrainian officials publish statements saying that they were terrorists. He also threatened to detonate a bomb in a crowded place.

Zelenskiy said he had spoken to Kryvosh for around 7-10 minutes and persuaded him to release three of the hostages, including a pregnant woman. After that, Zelenskiy agreed to publish the short video clip of him saying, “Everyone should watch” the “Earthlings” film.

Story continues below advertisement

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Follow related topics

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons or for abuse. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies