Amid Mariupol horror, newborn lies in mother’s arms – KLBK | KAMC

MARIUPOL, Ukraine (AP) — Newborn baby Veronika curled up against her mother on Friday, as if to hide from the horror that surrounded them — the war that tore apart the Mariupol maternity hospital where she was supposed to greet the world.

The day before the delivery, her mother, Mariana Vishegirskaya, had to flee the hospital when a Russian airstrike hit her.

Her forehead and cheek bloodied, she packed her things in a plastic bag as she navigated the debris-strewn stairs of the hospital in her polka-dot pajamas on Wednesday.

Images of desperate mothers and medical workers at the Children’s and Women’s Health Hospital shocked the world as the bombings took Russia’s war against Ukraine to a sickening level.

Taken to another hospital, Vishegirskaya and another woman who escaped the shelling have since given birth, their babies being delivered to the sound of shellfire. A strike also hit the new site where they were taken.

In the face of global condemnation, Russian officials made several false claims – that the hospital had been taken over by far-right Ukrainian forces for use as a base and emptied of patients and nurses.

The Russian Embassy in London’s Twitter account claimed she was not a victim, but a beauty blogger and model who posed as two different pregnant women.

While Vishegirskaya is a Ukrainian blogger in Mariupol who posts about skincare, makeup and cosmetics, there is no evidence that she was anything other than a patient in the hospital. She’s posted several photos and videos on Instagram documenting her pregnancy over the past few months, and in one, she can be seen wearing the same polka-dot pajamas as Wednesday.

The embassy released side-by-side images of two Associated Press photos, one of Vishegirskaya and the other of a woman being carried away on a stretcher, with the word “FAKE” placed on it in red text. The caption claimed: “Maternity has long been non-operational” at the time of the strike.

The embassy followed up with a second tweet in which it shared a photo of Vishegirskaya wrapped in a blanket outside the hospital alongside an image from her Instagram account to suggest she was playing a role.

AP reporters in Mariupol who documented the attack in video and photos saw the casualties and damage firsthand – and there is no evidence that the hospital was used for anything other than a hospital.

Twitter has since removed the tweets from the Russian Embassy and the existing links point to a notice that the posts violated Twitter’s rules.

The AP was unable to determine the identity of the woman on the stretcher.

The case caught the attention of the UN Security Council, where Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia held up copies of the PA photos during a meeting on Friday while repeating lies about the identity of Vishegirskaya and attacks her.

But US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield praised the media for “documenting the truth on the ground” and added: “Russia cannot hide the work of the PA press photographers.”

After the bombing, Vishegirskaya was taken to another hospital on the outskirts of town, facing the frontline, and gave birth by Caesarean section in a town that was cut off from food supplies, water, electricity and heating for over a week.

On Friday, her husband, Yuri, tenderly supported his daughter, then she was curled up next to her mother.

Vishegirskaya, in the same polka dot clothes, put her arm around the bundled up Veronika.

Martin E. Berry