The Russian embassy spreads disinformation about the attack on a maternity hospital
A Russian embassy has sparked outrage by accusing a Ukrainian beauty influencer of being a crisis actor in the devastating explosion at a maternity hospital that killed three people, including a teenage girl.
The Kremlin’s embassy in London first stamped a huge “FAKE” over tweeted photos of Wednesday’s atrocities in Mariupol, insisting the hospital only housed neo-Nazi radicals.
When commentators pointed to photos of a heavily pregnant woman fleeing with blood running from her face, the embassy claimed it was just “very realistic makeup,” the Times of London said.
“She is indeed pregnant [Ukraine] Beauty blogger Marianna Podgurskaya,” the embassy claimed.
“She actually played the roles of the two pregnant women in the photos.”
The only attempt at proof was the claim that the images were taken by a “famous propaganda photographer” – citing an award-winning war photographer who covered the invasion for the Associated Press.
Before the attack on the hospital, 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 is yet to be confirmed as the bloodied woman in the hospital pictures, she lives in Mariupol and posted an Instagram picture of her heavily pregnant belly a week ago.
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Still, the embassy insisted that “it could not be in the maternity hospital at the time of the strike, as it had long been occupied by the neo-Nazi Azov battalion, who ordered all staff to vacate the place.”
Twitter eventually removed the posts after outrage from the highest corners of the UK government, the UK Times said.
“This is fake news” tweeted British Culture Minister Nadine Dorrieswhile a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the Guardian: “It is clear that this is further disinformation.”
“You’ve seen the images of the people who were wounded during this attack and you’ve seen what the Prime Minister said in his tweet,” the spokesman said, referring to Johnson, who had said that “there is a few things more spoiled than targeting the vulnerable and defenseless.”
While the embassy’s tweets were removed, its page still shared a retweeted video from the Russian mission in Geneva, which also insisted the harrowing hospital attack was “fake news”.
Ukrainian officials have confirmed that a young girl was among three people who died in the attack, which also injured 17 others.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the attack an “atrocity” and a “genocide” and said it targeted “children, women, medical workers.”
US Vice President Kamala Harris couldn’t hide her disgust on Thursday as she condemned Russia’s “atrocities of unimaginable proportions” and said there “absolutely” should be a war crimes investigation.