Mariupol: Newborn Veronika curled against her mother’s side on Friday, as if to hide from the war that tore apart the Mariupol maternity hospital where she was meant to greet the world.
On the eve of giving birth, her mother, Mariana Vishegirskaya, had to flee the hospital when a Russian air strike hit.
Her brow and cheek bloodied, she clutched her belongings in a plastic bag as she navigated down the hospital’s debris-strewn stairs in her polka dot pyjamas.
Images of the desperate mothers and medical workers from the Children’s and Women’s Health hospital shocked the world, as the bombing took Russia’s war against Ukraine to a sickening new level.
Taken to another hospital, Vishegirskaya and another woman who escaped the bombing have since given birth, their babies delivered to the sound of shellfire. A strike hit the new site where they were taken, too.
Facing worldwide condemnation, Russian officials made several false claims — that the hospital had been taken over by far-right Ukrainian forces to use as a base and emptied of patients and nurses.
The Twitter account for the Russian Embassy in London claimed she was not a victim, but a beauty blogger and model who was posing as two different pregnant women.
While Vishegirskaya is a Ukrainian blogger in Mariupol who posts about skin care, makeup and cosmetics, there is no evidence that she was anything but a patient at the hospital. She has posted multiple photos and videos on Instagram documenting her pregnancy in the past few months, and in one, she can be seen wearing the same polka-dot pyjamas that she wore when she fled on Wednesday.