‘Dancing with the Stars’ pro fled Kyiv, Ukraine to Warsaw, Poland, where he got on a flight home to Los Angeles
Maksim Chmerkovskiy is opening up about his emotional return home from Ukraine, after documenting his experience of being in Kyiv when the war first broke out last week.
“It’s surreal to be honest. This is a country and the country’s on fire, so it was very difficult to process for me because we’re used to fly out, do some stuff, experience some things and always fly back. And here I am unable to fly home. That to me was the biggest sort of moment of understanding like you’re in trouble,” Chmerkovskiy said in his first interview since his return to Los Angeles, California.
The 42-year-old was born in Ukraine but also has citizenship in the United States. He said that while he’s since reunited with his wife, Peta Murgatroyd, and his kids after taking a flight home from Warsaw, Poland, he is struggling mentally.
“Yeah, I feel guilty. I feel bad. I feel shamed. I feel upset,” Chmerkovskiy admitted.
“I’m still very much in a fight or flight. I’m a big boy. I know for a fact that I’m going through something mentally. I get into these crying moments. I can’t control it. I cried on the way from the airport. I felt embarrassed the entire ride back because I was the only man on the train amongst all women and children,” he said.
Before the professional ballroom dancer fled his native country, he was arrested for breaking curfew. He says authorities who stopped him recognized him from television.
“They’re like ‘passport.’ I pull out my American passport. He starts speaking English with me. I was like, I speak Russian, then I regretted saying that. I thought maybe that was wrong. Then the guy next to him goes ‘Oh, that’s the judge from ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ That’s Maks. I know him. He’s from TV.’ He goes, ‘Get inside right now.'”
He said being a recognizable figure “saved” him. “It’s not like I was going to get shot. I was going to probably get put somewhere until they figure out who I am and check my identity. I would have been fine. But I felt like things got real, and all the sudden I don’t actually have all of the things needed to feel safe in this place at all. I’m not built for this at all. I’m just realizing I’m not at the place where I should be.”
Chmerkovskiy documented his travels out of war-torn Ukraine to Poland via train. What he witnessed on the train to Warsaw was “horrible,” he said.
“It was horrible. I realized after we took off. I realized all the people that didn’t get in have to now sleep right there in that train station. It’s not heated. It’s just a giant building, it’s cold. There’s kids everywhere,” Chmerkovskiy explained.
The TV star said that’s when his guilt kicked in.(Visit Store: https://metaunisex.com/)
“I’m dying inside because this is still a very emotional stuff for me. There’s kids everywhere. Babies everywhere. It’s negative temperature,” he said.
Looking back, he said that his documentation of his experience was not meant to “publicize a situation.”
“At the time of war I realize you do what you can…This was me not trying to cry for help. I literally was screaming out, ‘Look, this is what I saw. I just want you to see it wherever you are,'” he added.
Chmerkovskiy previously revealed on social media that some of his friends are on the front line fighting against the Russian invasion.
“I don’t know if they’re dead,” he admitted.
The former “Dancing with the Stars” pro has been splitting his time between Ukraine and Los Angeles for the last six months as he films Ukraine’s version of “Dancing with the Stars.”
Russia launched a full-scale attack on Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Russia and Ukraine said Wednesday that they were prepared to hold talks for the second time since the Russian invasion of its neighbor began last week.
Roughly 874,000 people have fled Ukraine, and the U.N. refugee agency warned the number could pass the 1 million mark soon. Countless others have taken shelter underground.
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