August 20, 2022

Russia earlier claimed the bombing of the maternity clinic never happened and that the outcry was ‘pathetic’

Russia has claimed that a pregnant woman who became the poster person for their attack on a maternity clinic in the war-torn Ukrainian city of Mariupol was in fact a crisis actor.

On Thursday, the Russian Embassy in the UK tweeted a photo of a woman whose picture was widely shared after Wednesday’s attack – a young, blonde, heavily pregnant woman in pajamas with blood on her face – suggesting that was in fact playing a role.

The woman has since been identified in media reports as blogger Marianna Podgurskaya. Her Instagram account @gixie_beauty has chronicled her pregnancy.

“She actually played roles of both pregnant women on the photos,” the Russian embassy tweeted. It went on to say the first photo was taken by Evgeniy Maloletka, a freelance photographer whom Russia considers a provocateur.

The embassy didn’t mention that a string of other photographers had also captured the same pictures of Marianna leaving the maternity hospital. Marianna, who is said to have been bullied online after the Embassy’s claims, is said to have since given birth to a baby girl.

The Daily Beast reported that the Embassy’s claim was widely spread online, on sites like 4Chan, where it said one user suggested it was unlikely Marianna would be at the hospital given her online presence: “Yes, she is pregnant, but she wasn’t there of course, she’s a local beauty-blogger,” one 4Chan poster wrote.

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Twitter removed the Russian Embassy tweet, telling the BBC it was “in violation of the Twitter Rules, specifically our Hateful Conduct and Abusive Behavior policies related to the denial of violent events.”

Speaking after failed talks with Ukraine’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov on Thursday claimed Russia did not bomb the hospital and dismissed criticism of the attack – branded a war crime by many – as a “pathetic outcry”.

The Russian foreign minister went on to say: “‘We are not planning to attack other countries. We didn’t attack Ukraine, either.”

He continued: “It is not the first time we see pathetic outcries concerning the so-called atrocities perpetrated by the Russian military.”

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