Ukraine officials say all hostages have been freed and their assailant is in custody following a 12-hour bus stand-off that ended after President Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke by phone with the suspect.
Shortly after the call, Zelenskiy posted a brief video message on his Facebook page to urge Ukrainians to watch "Earthlings," a 2005 American documentary exposing humanity's cruel exploitation of animals, as the hostage-taker had wanted.
Security officials say minutes later, the assailant walked out of the bus he had been holding in the city of Lutsk since Tuesday and surrendered to the police. They said all 13 hostages were released unharmed.
President Zelenskiy’s deputy chief of staff, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, told reporters the assailant, who police identified as 44-year-old Maksym Kryvosh, agreed to release the hostages following a 15-minute phone call with the president.
Police say Kryvosh initially contacted police identifying himself as Maksym Plokhoy, a pseudonym which, they said, translates to "Bad Maxim." Police said Kryvosh had previously spent around 10 years in prison on various charges.
All the captive passengers who were freed by Kryvosh were questioned by investigators after they met their relatives.
Following the drama, Zelenskiy hailed law enforcement officers for saving the hostages.
Ukrainian media said the suspect was an animal rights activists who helped protect stray dogs.