Ukrainian police on Tuesday freed 13 hostages and arrested an armed man who held them on a bus for more than 12 hours, after the nation’s president agreed to the man’s demand to post a movie recommendation on social media.
The security service said a joint operation had resulted in all the hostages being released unharmed after a standoff in Lutsk with the man, who threatened to detonate an explosive device unless his strange requests were met.
The tense hostage situation seemed to be resolved swiftly after the man spoke on the telephone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who then recorded a short video, apparently meeting one of the man’s demands.
Three hostages were quickly released, followed by the rest about an hour later.
Footage published by Ukrainian officials showed police escorting people as armed special forces stood over a man lying face down near the bus with his hands behind his back.
The hostage-taker had earlier fired shots and thrown an explosive package into the street in the center of Lutsk.
The man initially made contact with police identifying himself as Maksym Plokhoy, a pseudonym that translates to “Bad Maxim,” police said.
He was identified as Maksym Kryvosh, 44, who had previously spent about 10 years in prison for various offenses.
An account which was later suspended by Twitter had posts under Kryvosh’s name claiming that he was armed, including with bombs, and demanding top Ukrainian personalities convey anti-establishment messages on social media.
Zelensky apparently carried out one of the demands posted on the account when he posted a video on social media calling on people to watch the 2005 documentary Earthlings.
Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, the movie chronicles the harsh treatment of animals at the hands of humans.
Zelensky spoke with Kryvosh by telephone, Ukrainian Presidential Office Deputy Head Kyrylo Tymoshenko told a news conference in Lutsk.
“He [Zelensky] had a telephone conversation, speaking with him for 15 minutes, he convinced him to release three hostages,” Tymoshenko said.
Zelensky later deleted the short video.
“Today loved ones can hug everybody who languished all day on the bus with a gun pointed at them,” Zelensky wrote on social media after the crisis was over.
“We did not lose a single person,” added the president, a TV comedian before his election victory last year.
Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov said that Kryvosh came out of the bus following the negotiations.
“He really had a functioning pistol, an automatic rifle, he really had a grenade. There was a threat, but it’s all in the past,” Avakov said.
“A lengthy prison sentence awaits him,” he said, calling Kryvosh an “unstable man.”
‘TRAVEL FREELY’: Visitors from 10 countries deemed low-risk would be allowed into Thailand, while others must still undergo a week of quarantine at a hotel Thailand plans to fully reopen to vaccinated tourists from countries deemed low risk from Nov. 1, the country’s leader said on Monday, citing the urgent need to save the kingdom’s ailing economy. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Thailand attracted nearly 40 million visitors a year drawn to its picturesque beaches and robust nightlife, with tourism making up almost 20 percent of its national income. However, pandemic-related travel restrictions have left the economy battered, contributing to its worst performance in more than 20 years. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced that the country would be reopening its borders to vaccinated tourists travelling by air from
LEFT ALONE: The US withdrawal from Afghanistan has firmed up a belief among Arab leaders that they must chart their own course, such as saving their economies While Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is still shunned by the West, who blame him for a decade of brutal war in Syria, a shift is under way in the Middle East, where Arab allies of the US are bringing him in from the cold by reviving economic and diplomatic ties. The extension of al-Assad’s two-decade-old presidency in an election in May did little to break his pariah status among Western states, but fellow Arab leaders are coming to terms with the fact that he retains a solid grip on power. The US’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan has firmed up a belief among
Vaccination is highly effective at preventing severe cases of COVID-19, even against the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, a vast study in France has shown. The research published yesterday — focusing on prevention of severe COVID-19 and death, not infection — looked at 22 million people over 50 and found those who had received jabs were 90 percent less likely to be hospitalized or die. The results confirm observations from the US, the UK and Israel, but researchers say it is the largest study of its kind so far. Looking at data collected starting in December last year, when France launched its vaccination campaign,
Australia’s highest court yesterday dismissed an intellectual freedom claim by a university physicist who was fired in part over his public statements that scientists exaggerated damage to the Great Barrier Reef. Five High Court judges unanimously dismissed physicist Peter Ridd’s claim that he had been unlawfully dismissed in 2018 by James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland. The court ruled that a clause in his employment contract that protected his intellectual freedom was not a “general freedom of speech” clause and did not protect him from being fired for serious misconduct under the university’s code of conduct. Australian Minister for Education Alan Tudge said