An Austrian Instagram influencer has defended his journey to Chernobyl after being attacked for posting from the nuclear area.
Julia Baessler has 320,000 fans on the Facebook-owned social network – a link that has helped her unlock partnerships with companies like Monster Energy along with her twin sister Stephanie.
She has visited the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and parts of the surrounding exclusion zone more than once in recent months, with her recent trip in May.
During the later visit to Ukraine, Baessler gained access to the control room for reactor no. 4, which exploded with disastrous consequences in April 1
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In addition to updates to her Instagram stories, Baessler added a carousel of four pictures of her in the desolate control room. But she took away the pictures on Wednesday after one was mentioned in a viral tweet about influencers' flocking to Chernobyl.
The tweet, by the user Bruno Zupan, gave a wave of abuse in the comments on Baessler's photos, with people accusing her of exploiting the disaster to enjoy and reach.
Zupan's service may also have given intervention by Craig Mazin, the author of the HBO's "Chernobyl" series. Mazin tweeted on Tuesday that he had "seen the images around" and urged people to remember that "a terrible tragedy" occurred at the Soviet power.
"I don't want to be seen as a resident who goes to Chernobyl because it is trendy now"
But Baessler said her visit to Chernobyl was nothing to do with the HBO show – pointed out that she had been before it was broadcast on TV – and that she was not there on a football.
In a series of messages sent to Business Insider over Instagram, Baessler said that she visited her boyfriend who is an engineer and she has a genuine interest in nuclear physics.
"I did not come to visit Chernobyl as a tourist attraction or shooting area because of the HBO series and I am tired of reading this. I have visited Chernobyl for the first time long before the series came out because I am really interested of history and nuclear physics itself, "she said.
Baessler added that she did not have a "photographer or lighting team" with her, but wanted to share that special access to her and her boyfriend with her followers.
"Because of my boys' engineering work, we were able to get a special entrance to enter the control room 4, which is actually not available to visitors. I left these stories online because they are full of information [sic] and I really want to spread them but I do not want to be seen as an influence that goes to Chernobyl because it is trendy now. It is not true, Baessler said.
She also said there was a thread of sexism in some of the criticisms she received. " It is sad that people only see me as an "instagram model" and cannot believe that I am deeply interested in history or physics. People are just prejudices [sic] and it really sucks, "she explained.
British tabloid The Sun reported in 2017 that Baessler used Instagram to help finance his way through the law school at the University of Vienna in Austria.