Ukrainian Injured in Maternity Ward Strike Gives Birth — as Her Influencer Account Is Targeted

Mariana Vishegirskaya appears to have been falsely accused by Russian officials of faking injuries for a photo shoot at the destroyed medical facility in Mariupol, Ukraine

Mariana Vishegirskaya
Photo: Mariana Vishegirskaya/Instagram; Evgeniy Maloletka/AP/Shutterstock

An injured pregnant woman who was photographed evacuating a damaged children's hospital and maternity ward in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol after it was hit by airstrikes on Wednesday has reportedly given birth to a baby girl.

Mariana Vishegirskaya is seen in new images resting at a hospital with her daughter Veronika, according to the Associated Press. Her husband, Yuri, was by her side and holding their newborn in one of the photos.

Vishegirskaya is reportedly a beauty blogger and influencer whose Instagram account has more than 75,000 followers.

The Russian embassy in the U.K. had alleged on Twitter without any evidence that the woman photographed with blood on her face leaving the maternity ward was a crisis actor who faked her injuries, Insider reports.

Mariana Vishegirskaya
Mariana Vishegirskaya with her newborn daughter. Evgeniy Maloletka/AP/Shutterstock

The embassy reportedly claimed in a series of tweets that have since been removed that the medical facility was "long non-operational" but was used by a "neo-Nazi" Ukrainian military battalion that had previously cleared out staff.

One of the tweets said the woman, whom they named as Marianna Podgurskaya, used "some very realistic make-up" to make it look like she was hurt in the stage photographed.

A British member of parliament, Nadine Dorries, called the tweets "fake news" on Twitter.

Marianna Podgurskaya
Evgeniy Maloletka/AP/Shutterstock

The social media platform eventually removed the tweets for violating its abusive behavior policy, which includes "denying mass casualty events took place," according to Insider.

"This may include references to such an event as a 'hoax' or claims that victims or survivors are fake or 'actors'," the policy states.

Vishegirskaya appears very pregnant in several posts on her Instagram account, which has also reportedly been hit with vicious comments in Russian accusing her of participating in a "fake photo shoot."

Wednesday's attack in besieged Mariupol, where residents are burying their dead in a mass grave on the outskirts of town, caused "colossal" damage, its city council said.

"Attacks on health care violate international law and endanger lives," the World Health Organization said in a tweet. "Health workers, hospitals and ambulances should NEVER be targets.

Mariupol, Ukraine maternity and children's hospital shelled
Mariana Vishegirskaya. Evgeniy Maloletka/AP/Shutterstock

Russia's attack on Ukraine continues after their forces launched a large-scale invasion on Feb. 24 — the first major land conflict in Europe in decades.

Details of the fighting change by the day, but more than 1,000 civilians have been reported dead or wounded, including children. More than 2 million Ukrainians have also fled, the United Nations says.

"You don't know where to go, where to run, who you have to call. This is just panic," Liliya Marynchak, a 45-year-old teacher in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, told PEOPLE of the moment her city was bombed — one of numerous accounts of bombardment by the Russians.

The invasion, ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, has drawn condemnation around the world and increasingly severe economic sanctions against Russia.

With NATO forces massing in the region around Ukraine, various countries have also pledged aid or military support to the resistance. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for peace talks — so far unsuccessful — while urging his country to fight back.

Putin insists Ukraine has historic ties to Russia and he is acting in the best security interests of his country. Zelenskyy vowed not to bend.

"Nobody is going to break us, we're strong, we're Ukrainians," he told the European Union in a speech in the early days of the fighting, adding, "Life will win over death. And light will win over darkness."

The Russian attack on Ukraine is an evolving story, with information changing quickly. Follow PEOPLE's complete coverage of the war here, including stories from citizens on the ground and ways to help.

Updated by
Aaron Parsley

Aaron Parsley has been a part of PEOPLE's digital team for more than 15 years.

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