Stepan, the Internet star of Ukrainian cats and a refugee on the Cote d’Azur has 2.5 million subscribers at the table … says owner Anna

His indifference, his glass of wine, and disco lights made him an internet sensation; The war in Ukraine gave him a more politicized platform. Stepan, a 13-year-old Ukrainian cat who became influential after several videos went viral at the end of 2020, fled the war to land in Nice, while waiting to return home in Kharkiv. Protected on the Cote d’Azur, it was even nominated at the Global Influencers and Bloggers Awards, May 18-19 in Cannes. We interviewed Anna, its owner, who has 2.5 million followers between Instagram and TikTok.

“Stepan the Jaded Cat” was popular before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But at that time, few people knew that he was from that country. How was your life before the war? When did you realize Stepan’s viral potential?

It has been a year and a half now since Stepan became famous all over the world. It all started with the social network TikTok, when millions of people watched this famous video where his eyes were bulging, in the background, a woman screaming at her dog. It went viral in a very short time, and instantly gained millions of followers.

Six months later, I created his Instagram account for my cat. Over the past summer, a second wave of popularity surfaced, with a video of him sitting next to a pizza looking frustrated. Initially, it garnered 5 million views per week, and it has reached 33 million views so far. A third wave followed when Britney Spears posted a picture of himself.

Ukrainian cat Stepan has arrived in France Photo by loveyoustepan.

Tell us about your trip from Ukraine to France. What was the specific event that prompted you to leave your country?

From the first day of the invasion, February 24, we heard an explosion at about five in the morning in our sleep, without really understanding what was going on. Half an hour later, the windows shook again. I jumped out of my bed and realized that the war had just arrived at our door in Saltivka [une zone résidentielle au nord-est de Kharkiv, Ndlr]. It was the first day of the war when my city was most devastated. Shells were hitting neighboring houses every day, and some of them caught fire. Miraculously, our country survived for a week. But on the eighth day a shell fell on the neighbor’s balcony. Then Stepan and I spent two nights in the basement without electricity. I had to go to the next building every day to charge my phone.

Then we managed to escape from the city when volunteers took us to the station. Twenty hours later we were in Lviv [dans l’ouest de l’Ukraine, Ndlr]. From there, we joined the Polish border, along with 5,000 people. When we arrived in Poland, the Worldwide Influencers and Bloggers Association (WIBA) offered to help us. Its members helped us come to France, so that we could go back home.

Even in front of the Baie des Anges, Stepan could not be deceived. (Repro Instagram).

Do you “enjoy” yourself here despite the circumstances?

We love Nice a lot and everything is fine for us here, we are protected… but he’s not at home. I worry a lot about our family leaving in Ukraine, and I’m doing my best to help my country. It is purely a coincidence that we found ourselves here: The Association of Global Influencers and Bloggers is located in the Côte d’Azur, which is why we are in Nice.

Do you make a living off Stepan’s face?

Our three biggest decades were with Valentino [Stepan a effectué sa meilleure pose mi-triste mi-critique aux côtés d’un sac iconique de la marque italienne, incrusté de diamants, Ndlr], Crocs and Puma. Last summer, Stepan announced the Rockstud handbag, for a campaign coming out in November 2021. Then the videos followed on TikTok, again for them. With Crocs, we agreed to shoot an entire commercial, but the shoe package got lost on the way. However, it all ended well.

The character of the cat Stepan, initially a purely entertaining “meme” (1), became political due to events in Ukraine. What kind of messages are you trying to convey when writing “posts”?

What Russia is doing is a flagrant violation of the world’s march. No one can be silent when a dictator’s insane actions cause great suffering. Putin sows nothing but ruin and death. This war must end immediately.

This video of an indifferent Stepan with pizza and his glass of wine greatly contributed to her popularity.

How do you help your citizens back home?

To date, the fundraising program for animals affected by the war in Ukraine on Instagram has raised more than $10,000.

What does the future of Stepan and yours look like? Do you want to stay here or go back to Ukraine?

We want to go back to Ukraine, to our house in Kharkiv. It is our home.

Stepan is now an icon. What is a WIBA concert in Cannes for you, who will also donate money to Ukraine?

I am very honored to be nominated and am very grateful for the opportunity and support of the Global Influencers & Bloggers Association. Stepan is now a symbol of Ukrainian steadfastness.

The now legendary indifference of Stepan. picture d.

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