Dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy Leaves Ukraine For Poland, Heading Home to US – CNET

Maksim Chmerkovskiy, a professional dancer and longtime cast member of Dancing With the Stars, is on his way home to California from Ukraine, where he had been posting social media updates about his experience during the invasion by Russia. Chmerkovskiy, who was born in Ukraine, has been living in the country for months while working with a dance competition. In videos posted last week, he said he wasn’t trying to return to his home and family in the US. But the situation changed.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, starting the largest land war in Europe since World War II and leading to ever-increasing international rebuke and sanctions

On Wednesday, Chmerkovskiy posted a video showing himself at the airport in Warsaw, Poland, walking through the terminal to board his flight.

“Talk to you from LA,” he said in the video.

Earlier in the week, the dancer said he had been briefly arrested while in Ukraine but didn’t go into great detail, briefly describing what he witnessed and experienced as, “Just a lot of fighting everywhere. Streets are crazy. At one point, I got arrested. … But again, all good, promise. …That was probably the least traumatizing moment in this whole thing for — as far as Ukraine is concerned. But for me, it was just a reality check.”

Chmerkovskiy, who has said he feels fortunate to have a US passport, ended his video noting that fans shouldn’t worry if he’s unable to post for a while, saying that he will keep in touch with his family. Chmerkovskiy and his wife, dancer Peta Murgatroyd, live in California with their 5-year-old son, Shai. 

Chmerkovskiy was born in Odessa, Ukraine, in 1980 when the country was part of the Soviet Union. His family immigrated to New York in 1994, and he began competing as a professional dancer. He joined the dance competition show in its second season in 2006, partnering with various celebrities until leaving the show in 2018. He won the show’s coveted mirror ball trophy in 2014 when paired with Olympic ice dancer Meryl Davis.

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