'Dancing With the Stars' Alum Maks Chmerkovskiy Reveals 'Traumatizing' Escape From Ukraine

Former Dancing With the Stars pro Maks Chmerkovskiy says he has escaped Ukraine and is in Poland after he was briefly arrested in Ukraine on Monday. After Chmerkovskiy told his Instagram followers he was on a train to Poland amid the "traumatizing" escape, he wrote on his Instagram Story, "I'm in Poland." He added, "I absolutely have to say this: POLISH PEOPLE ARE AMAZING!!!!!!! THANK YOU FROM THE ABSOLUTE BOTTOM OF MY HEART AND SOUL." 

The 42-year-old dancer, who was born in Ukraine, was in Kyiv when Russia began its invasion of the country on Thursday. In his Monday afternoon Instagram Story post, Chmerkovskiy wrote that he "made it on the train" heading to Warsaw, "hopefully." He wanted to get on a train to Lviv in western Ukraine, but this was "not an option" for him. "The situation at the train station is insane," he wrote.

"At first it feels manageable, but it gets A LOT worse when it comes time to actually board the train. Long story but all I can say now is that I'm a big man with nothing but a backpack it's TRAUMATIZING," Chmerkovskiy continued, reports PEOPLE. "Currently, I'm in a cabin with 4 adults and 7 kids (ages 2-11) which usually is only occupied by [a] maximum of 3 people. There's usually up to 30 people in this particular wagon. We were told we have to fit 135. Walkways are packed. People everywhere. It's sweaty and claustrophobic."

In another Instagram Story post, Chmerkovskiy recalled seeing a young boy "hysterically crying" and refusing to let go of his father. "Verbatim, 'If you stay I want to stay too because if they kill you I won't be able to help,'" Chmerkovskiy recalled the boy saying.

It's not clear how Chmerkovskiy got out of Ukraine. Men between the ages of 18 and 60 are banned from leaving the country, according to a mobilization order President Volodymyr Zelensky signed on Thursday, reports CNN. "This regulation will remain in effect for the period of the legal regime of martial law. We ask the citizens to take this information into consideration," the order read.


Earlier on Monday, Chmerkovskiy told fans he was briefly arrested but was no longer in custody at the time he filmed the video. "That was probably the least traumatizing moment in this whole thing as far as Ukraine is concerned, but for me, it was just a reality check," he said. He also asked fans not to panic if he "disappears for a while" as he tried to leave the country.

Meanwhile, Chmerkovskiy's wife, DWTS pro Peta Murgatroyd, shared his latest Instagram Story posts. "YOU CAN DO IT!! Get back home! I am so f- proud of you for helping those kids on board," she wrote. Murgatroyd and Chmerkovskiy are parents to son Shai, 5. After Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, Murgatroyd asked her fans to pray for her husband and his country. "Please pray for Ukraine and the innocent civilians [whose] lives are being greatly uprooted," she wrote. "I grew to love this country the couple of times I visited and they're in an unfathomable situation."