Celebrity

Ukrainian Instagram famous cat Stepan flees Kharkiv amid Russian bombing to find safety in France | Daily Mail Online

An Instagram-famous cat has escaped war-torn Ukraine and found safety and refuge in France amid Russia‘s bombing of the city of Kharkiv.

Stepan, 13, who has more than one million followers on the platform, became popular thanks to his amusing photos thanks to his singature grumpy poses. 

His owner (a woman called Anna) updates his Instagram account (@loveyoustepan) regularly, so when it went silent for almost two weeks, with no posts between March 3 and 16, fans started to worry they may have been hurt or killed by attacks on Kharkiv, where they live.

The city, which is Ukraine’s second largest, is around 25 miles away from the Russian border, making it a major target. Though Russian troops have not yet managed to capture it, it has faced relentless bombing since the end of February.

After not posting on social media since March 3, fans of Stepan were worried that he and his family may have been killed following bombing in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, where he lives

Stepan looked frightened in the images taking during the family’s gruelling journey from Ukraine to France (left), a far cry from the amusing ‘casual lean’ images that made him famous and garnered him a legion of more than 1 million fans (right)

Stepan’s owner Anna also shared this image of Saltovka, a residential area in their city of Kharkiv, which has been relentlessly bombed by Russia

Anna took to the platform this week to reassure followers, and let them know Stepan and she are safe, and have found refuge in France after leaving Ukraine. 

A post featuring images of Stepan looking scared in his travel bag and on a train was accompanied by a long caption detailing the gruelling journey from Ukraine.

On February 24, early in the morning, we were sleeping at home. At 5 am, some explosion was heard, and I didn’t even understand what it was,’ she said.

‘After a while, after half an hour later, there were more explosions, the windows trembled. I jumped up and understood that something terrible was happening! 

‘The attack and shelling of Kharkiv (especially on the North Saltovka where we live). We realized that the war had come to our house.’

The post added that neighbouring homes were being struck by shells daily, and while their own building remained intact for a week, on the eight day, it was damaged after a shell hit their neighbours’ balcony.

Anna shared an image of Stepan in his travel bag as the pair fled their city of Kharkiv. Thousands of fans shared their relief at finding out they were safe

The pictures Anna shared of Stepan are a far cry from the pre-war images his fans love, like this picture of the cat dressed in a bowtie and taking a selfie

In a lengthy Instagram caption, Anna revealed that ‘the war had come to [their] house’, and she had to flee along with Stepan

It said: ‘There was no fire. Thank God! In two or three dozen apartments, all the windows spilled out. Also, two shells fell in our yard in front of the house.

‘We spent two nights in the basement and without electricity for a week. We had to go to the nearby basement to charge the phone. Then we managed to leave the city. Kharkiv volunteers helped by taking us to the railway station. 

‘We got on the train Kharkiv – Lviv (in 20 hours, we got to Lviv). Then we followed to the border with Poland. At the border, we stood in a line in a pedestrian crossing. There were a lot of people (4-5 thousand). After 9 hours, we crossed the border.

‘When we reached Poland, we were offered help from the World Influencers and Bloggers Association from Monaco.  

Fans of the famous cat took to social media to share their feelings of relief that he and Anna are safe, with many revealing that they had been worried

‘They helped us get to France to wait for the very day when we could return home. We’re all right now. We worry very much about our relatives in Ukraine and will do the very best we can to help our country.’

The post, which received almost half a million likes, garnered numerous comments from concerned fans.  

One wrote: ‘I am crying with joy that you are all safe. I’ve been so worried!’

Another added: ‘So glad to hear that you’re safe now. Thank you for sharing this terrible experience with us. We’re with you!’

And a third wrote: ‘We love you Stepan and Anna are are so relieved you are both safe. I will keep checking on you each day.’ 

Ukrainian Instagram famous cat Stepan flees Kharkiv amid Russian bombing to find safety in France

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