This Instagram Influencer Says It 'Really Sucks' That She Was Attacked for Posting From the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster Zone

'It's sad that people only see me as an 'Instagram model' and can't believe that I'm deeply interested in history or physics.'

By Jake Kanter

Instagram/Julia Baessler via BI
Instagram influencer Julia Baessler at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

This story originally appeared on Business Insider

An Austrian Instagram influencer has defended her trip to Chernobyl after she was attacked for posting from the nuclear disaster zone.

Julia Baessler has 320,000 fans on the Facebook-owned social network -- a following that has helped her unlock partnerships with companies like Monster Energy, alongside 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 most recent trip coming in May.

During this latter visit to Russia, Baessler was given access to the control room for the No. 4 reactor, which exploded with catastrophic consequences in April 1986.

As well as updates to her Instagram Stories, Baessler posted a carousel of four images of her standing in the fateful control room. But she deleted the images on Wednesday after one was featured in a viral tweet about influencers "flocking" to Chernobyl.

The tweet, by user Bruno Zupan, sparked a wave of abuse in the comments on Baessler's photos, with people accusing her of exploiting the disaster for likes and reach.

Zupan's post may have also sparked an intervention from Craig Mazin, the writer of HBO's hit series "Chernobyl." Mazin tweeted on Tuesday that he had "seen the photos going around" and urged people to remember that "a terrible tragedy" occurred at the Russian power plant.

But Baessler said her visit to Chernobyl was nothing to do with the HBO show -- pointing to fact that she had been before it aired on TV -- and that she was not there on a photoshoot.

In a series of messages sent to Business Insider over Instagram, Baessler said she was visiting with her boyfriend who is an engineer and she has a genuine interest in nuclear physics.

"I didn't come to visit Chernobyl as a tourist attraction or shooting spot because of the HBO series and I'm sick of reading this. I have been visiting Chernobyl for the first time long before the series came out because I'm really interested in 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 the special access granted to her and her boyfriend with her followers.

"Because of the engineering work of my boyfriend we were able to get a special admission to go inside control room 4 which is actually not accessible for visitors. I left those stories online because they are full of informations [sic] and I really want to spread them but I don't want to be seen as an influencer going to Chernobyl because it's trendy now. that's not true," Baessler said.

#timetravel 2018 - SWIPE - 1975 Azure Swimming Pool in Pripyat normalerweise kennt ihr mich eher im Bikini vor einem türkis-blauen Pool posend aber ich kann euch versichern, dass kein luxuriöser Pool der Welt mit diesem Ort mithalten kann dieses Schwimmbad war noch bis 1998 in Betrieb und wurde in der Zeit nach dem Unfall vorwiegend von den Menschen benutzt, die ihre Gesundheit und teilweise auch ihr Leben aufs Spiel gesetzt haben, um Arbeiten am zerstören Reaktor vorzunehmen. Hier fand man ein wenig Erholung und einen Ort zum Abschalten Vor dem Unfall war das Schwimmbad der Lieblingsort vieler Kinder, die im gleichen Gebäude zur Schule gingen. Es ist krass zu sehen, was aus diesem Ort geworden ist wenn man ihn mit Bildern von früher vergleicht. Wollt ihr mehr solcher kleinen Zeitreisen in Vergleichsbildern sehen? Lasst es mich gerne wissen ☺️ Ich habe euch außerdem meine ganzen Stories als Highlights ins Profil gesetzt, damit ihr sie euch bei Interesse immer wieder ansehen könnt ☺️ #chernobyl #ghosttown #lostplaces

A post shared by JULIA BAESSLER (@juliabaessler) on

She also said that there was a thread of sexism in some of the criticism she received. "It's sad that people only see me as an 'Instagram model' and can't believe that I'm deeply interested in history or physics. People are full just prejudices [sic] and that really sucks," she explained.

British tabloid The Sun reported in 2017 that Baessler was using Instagram to help fund her way through law school at the University of Vienna in Austria.

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