A popular Instagram influencer is in the midst of a social media storm over a photo he shared during an off-road drive in Iceland.

Russian filmmaker and photographer Alexander Tikhomirov posted a photo of himself with his rented LandCruiser, which had become stuck in clay while on a cross-country drive to reach a volcanic Lake Mývatn in Iceland's north.

But when police came to rescue the stranded influencer, they took him in for questioning at a local police station and fined him for driving off-road, which is illegal in Iceland as it damages the fragile topsoil and vegetation.

When police came to rescue the stranded influencer, they took him into custody. Photo / Supplied, Instagram.com, @sashatikhomirov
When police came to rescue the stranded influencer, they took him into custody. Photo / Supplied, Instagram.com, @sashatikhomirov

"Congratulations, today I got a big fine," the caption read in Russian, according to The Independent.

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Rather than sympathise with Tikhomirov, Instagram followers turned on him, with many not taking kindly to his illegal antics.

"In a time where we've declared a climate emergency and we have less than 12 years to sort the planet out, here you are destroying a beautiful part of the world for an Instagram photo," someone wrote.

"This is incredibly disrespectful, after you got fined by the police for banned off-road driving you pose by the rental car at the scene. Shame on you," another person said.

Lögreglumenn frá Húsavík höfðu í dag hendur í hári ökumanns, sem tók upp á þeim ósóma að stofna til utanvegaaksturs í...

Posted by Lögreglan á Norðurlandi eystra on Sunday, 2 June 2019

"What the hell. It is illegal to drive off-road in Iceland," another Instagram user said.


"You have damaged a piece of land that will take years to recover and it is not cool at all bragging about it. I hope you will enjoy paying the huge fine the police gave you. Learn something from this. We allowed you to travel through our country and see the best of the nature. Respect it please."

Some users called for Tikhomirov to be banned from Iceland, saying he was "not welcome".

In other posts, Tikhomirov was called an "idiot" and "degenerate".

'Congratulations, today I got a big fine': The star got into trouble driving over the soft volcanic topsoil. Photo / Supplied, Instagram.com, @sashatikhomirov
'Congratulations, today I got a big fine': The star got into trouble driving over the soft volcanic topsoil. Photo / Supplied, Instagram.com, @sashatikhomirov

The Russian Embassy in Reykjavík even issued a statement in the wake of the drama, asking Russians to respect Icelandic laws and customs, Insider reported.

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Tikhomirov has since addressed the issue in a post on Instagram Stories, saying he didn't know it was illegal to drive off-road in Iceland.

He also accused locals of throwing plastic bottles at his car when they recognised him from coverage of the story.

"You think I'm an animal? I think you guys are animals," he wrote in English.

'I'll try to explain what happened in Iceland': The photographer claims he didn't know that he was breakign the law. Photo / Instagram, @sashatikhomirov
'I'll try to explain what happened in Iceland': The photographer claims he didn't know that he was breakign the law. Photo / Instagram, @sashatikhomirov

Ecological damage caused by overtourism has become a problem in Iceland, which is experiencing a surge in interest from visitors.

Some 2.3 million tourists were expected to visit the Nordic country in 2017, swamping its population of just 335,000.

Recently, Icelandic environmental officials closed a canyon called Fjaðrárgljúfur to protect it from huge crowds of Justin Bieber fans who wanted to visit it after the star featured it in his I'll Show You music video.