Ukrainian Hostages Freed After President Endorses Joaquin Phoenix Film

A gunman demanded Volodymyr Zelensky promote the 2005 documentary 'Earthlings'
Ukrainian Hostages Freed After President Endorses Joaquin Phoenix Film
Photo via @WeAnimals on Twitter
An intense hostage situation in Lutsk, Ukraine, ended yesterday after President Volodymyr Zelensky bent to the demands of an armed assailant by publicly endorsing a 2005 Joaquin Phoenix-narrated documentary titled Earthlings.

As the New York Times reports, an ex-convict named Maksim Krivosh held 13 people inside a bus for nearly 12 hours yesterday (July 21) in order to have a number of his outlandish requests met. In a manifesto posted to Twitter using the name Maksim the Bad, Krivosh demanded that Zelenksy endorse Phoenix's Earthlings, and that members of Parliament and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church publicly post "I am a legal terrorist," among other things.

During the encounter, Krivosh also reportedly forced his hostages to watch the film, which uses hidden cameras to document the unethical treatment of factory-farmed animals.

Zelensky later caved Krivosh's demands, writing, "Everbody watch the 2005 film Earthlings," in a since-deleted Facebook post. The president later released a statement about his strategy, explaining, "We were not fighting for ratings. We were fighting for lives."

None of the hostages were harmed during the exchange.

Revisit the film's trailer below.