So, according to BBC, here’s how things went down. The siege began at 06:00 GMT on Tuesday. The abductor/hostage-taker, Maksym Kryvosh, fired shots and threw explosives which didn’t detonate. Then he demanded that senior politicians should state publicly that he was a terrorist. That started several hours of tense stand-off with the officers of the counter-terrorism SBU security services. According to the prosecutor general’s office, the gunman said that he had placed an explosive device in the city and will be detonated remotely if his demands weren’t met.
During this stand-off President Zelensky was contacted repeatedly during his meeting with his Swiss counterpart. Zelensky said,
“There were unclear demands and it was hard to understand why it was happening. It took time to understand.”
Zelensky said that the gunman was talking to a wide range of experts and although a special assault operation was being planned, it was ruled out as it was too risky to the hostages. That’s why he agreed to speak to the gunman. They had a 7-10 minute long conversation where he agreed to release three people – a wounded person, a pregnant woman, and a child – if the President posted a video promoting the Joaquin Phoenix narrated 2005 documentary called Earthlings.
Yes, yes, you read that right. Kryvosh wanted an animal rights documentary narrated by Phoenix, which had won several minor festival awards and focused on major world industries relying on animals, to be promoted. And, well, Zelensky agreed and posted a brief video on his Facebook page referencing the film Earthlings. He said,
“After the video was published on social networks, we would release all the rest in half an hour. Everything happened almost like that. In 30-40 minutes he released all hostages.”
Луцк. Все целы! pic.twitter.com/ivB4u6sQEH
— Arsen Avakov (@AvakovArsen) July 21, 2020
Arsen Avakov, the Minister of Internal Affairs tweeted out a photo of Kryvosh’s arrest and said that Lutsk is safe and that no one was hurt. It isn’t clear that whether the explosive device was ever found. And although the whole thing about promoting the documentary narrated by Phoenix might seem funny, it was confirmed that Kryvosh posed a genuine threat since he had several functioning firearms and has spent 10 years in prison on convictions including fraud and illegal handling of weapons. Arakov has said that Kryvosh faces a lengthy term in jail.
All that said, in a way, we can say that cinema saved lives and that alone requires a rewatch of Earthlings.
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Cover artwork by Bhavya Poonia/Mashable India