Pregnant Ukrainian woman who escaped Mariupol hospital gives birth

Mariana Vishegirskaya pictured in same spotted pyjamas three days after fleeing hospital

Mariana Vishegirskaya lies in a hospital bed after giving birth to her daughter Veronika in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Friday. AP
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A heavily pregnant Ukrainian woman who fled a hospital in Mariupol amid Russian air strikes has given birth to a baby girl.

Mariana Vishegirskaya had to flee the city’s Children’s and Women’s Health hospital as Russian forces bombed the city.

Ms Vishegirskaya, on the eve of giving birth, was taken to another hospital where she has since given birth to newborn Veronika.

Another unnamed woman who escaped the bombing has also delivered her baby.

Russian officials faced worldwide condemnation after making several false claims, including 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 Ms Vishegirskaya was a beauty blogger and model, who was posing as two different pregnant women.

Ms Vishegirskaya is a Ukrainian blogger in Mariupol who posts about skin care, makeup and cosmetics – but there is no evidence she was anything but a patient at the hospital.

Mariana Vishegirskaya lies in a hospital bed after giving birth to her daughter Veronika, held by her husband Yuri. AP

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 spotted pyjamas as on Wednesday.

The embassy posted side-by-side images of two Associated Press photos, one depicting Ms Vishegirskaya and another of a woman being carried away on a stretcher, placing the word “FAKE” over them in red text. The caption claimed: “The maternity house was long non-operational” at the time of the strike.

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

The photo that captured Mariana Vishegirskaya walking downstairs in the maternity hospital after it was hit on March 9, 2022. AP Photo

AP reporters in Mariupol who documented the attack said they saw nothing to indicate the building was used as anything other than a hospital.

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

The case drew attention at the UN Security Council, where Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia held up copies of the AP photos during a meeting on Friday while repeating falsehoods about Ms Vishegirskaya’s identity and the attack.

But US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield praised the media for “documenting the truth on the ground,” and adding: “Russia cannot cover up the work of AP news photographers.”

After the bombing, Ms Vishegirskaya was taken to another hospital on the outskirts of the city, facing the front line, and gave birth via cesarean section in a city that’s been cut off from food supplies, water, electricity and heat for more than a week.

AP contributed to this report

Updated: March 12, 2022, 12:03 PM
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