August 15, 2022

A Russian embassy has sparked outrage by accusing a Ukrainian beauty influencer of being a crisis actor at the devastating maternity hospital blast that killed three people, including a young girl.

The Kremlin’s embassy in London first stamped a giant “FAKE” over tweeted photos of Wednesday’s atrocity in Mariupol, insisting the hospital only housed neo-Nazi radicals.

When commentators pointed to photos of a heavily pregnant woman fleeing with blood dripping from her face, the embassy claimed it was just “some very realistic make-up,” the Times of London said.

“It’s the indeed pregnant [Ukraine] beauty blogger Marianna Podgurskaya,” the embassy claimed.

“She actually played roles of both pregnant women in the photos.”

The only attempt at proof was a claim that the images were taken by a “famous propagandist photographer” — naming an award-winning war photographer covering the invasion for The Associated Press.

A Russian attack severely damaged a maternity hospital in the besieged port city of Mariupol, Ukraine on March 9, 2022.
AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka

Before the hospital attack, the same journalist had captured harrowing images of bodies being buried in a mass grave in the city that The Red Cross said now looks “apocalyptic.”

While Podgurskaya has yet to be confirmed as the bloodied woman in the hospital images, she is based in Mariupol and a week ago posted an Instagram image of her heavily pregnant belly.


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Still, the embassy insisted that “she could not be in the maternity house at the time of the strike, as it has long been taken by the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion who told all the staff to clear the place.”

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Twitter eventually removed the posts after outrage from the highest corners of Britain’s government, the UK Times said.

ukraine map
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its 15th day on March 10, 2022.
Russian airstrike on a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Wednesday (
Russian forces attacked a maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine on March 9, 2022.
Mariupol City Council/Cover Images

“This is fake news,” tweeted UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, while a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson told The Guardian, “It is clear that this is further disinformation.”

“You have seen the pictures of the people who were wounded during that attack, and you have seen what the prime minister said in his tweet,” the spokesman said, referring to Johnson having said that “there are few things more depraved than targeting the vulnerable and defenseless.”

While the embassy’s tweets were removed, its page still shared a retweeted video by the Russian Mission in Geneva also insisting the harrowing hospital attack was “fake news.”

Russia used its embassy's social media accounts to spread disinformation about the Ukraine war.
Russia used its UK embassy’s Twitter account to spread disinformation about the Ukraine war.
Instagram

Ukrainian officials have confirmed that a young girl was among three people who died in the attack that also injured 17 others.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the attack an “atrocity” and “genocide,” saying it targeted “children, women, medical workers.”

Vice President Kamala Harris could not hide her disgust Thursday as she condemned Russia’s “atrocities of unimaginable proportion,” saying there “absolutely” should be a war crimes investigation.