Tue. May 17th, 2022
Dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy Leaves Ukraine For Poland, Heading Home to US

This story is part of War in Ukraine, CNET’s coverage of events there and of the wider effects on the world.

reunion

The dancer had an emotional reuniton with wife Peta Murgatroyd at Los Angeles International Airport. 


Video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

Maksim Chmerkovskiy, a professional dancer and longtime cast member of Dancing With the Stars, is home in California after being briefly arrested in Ukraine, where he had been posting social media updates about his experience during the Russian invasion. 

Chmerkovskiy, who was born in Ukraine, lived in the country for months while working with a dance competition there. In videos posted last week, he said that 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

The dancer reunited with wife, fellow dancer Peta Murgatroyd, at Los Angeles International Airport after his flight on Thursday. Numerous entertainment outlets filmed the emotional moment. 

“I was told to get a gun. … I decided that this is my gun, and that I’m going to do my best with this,” he said to the crowd of reporters, indicating his phone, and referring to the numerous videos he posted from Ukraine reporting on the war.

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.”

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While it’s unclear exactly how the dancer was able to leave the country, he has expressed gratitude for his US passport. Chmerkovskiy and Murgatroyd have a 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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