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Iconic image of Ukraine’s pregnant women used to spread lies about war: Report

Her beauty blogging was used to suggest she was an "actor," who had used makeup to show fake injuries.

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Kyiv: A moving photograph of a pregnant woman fleeing a bombed maternity hospital in Ukraine was widely circulated and became the most iconic images of the Russia-Ukraine war.

But, according to the BBC report, its subject was targeted by an extraordinary Russian disinformation campaign and she received hate from both sides.

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The photo was taken by a journalist from the Associated Press in the aftermath of a Russian airstrike in Mariupol.  It circulated widely, on newspaper front pages, and was argued about at the UN Security Council. Here’s when Marianna was targeted with false allegations that the pictures were “staged”.

The 29-year-old, who earlier promoted beauty products on social media, was falsely accused of “acting”.  Her beauty blogging was used to suggest she was an “actor,” who had used makeup to show fake injuries. These falsehoods were repeated and amplified by senior Russian officials and state media, reports BBC.

The Russian Embassy in London, in a tweet targeting Marianna, said she ‘played roles of pregnant women’. 

In a tweet, which was later taken down by Twitter, the Embassy said, “No, it’s the indeed pregnant (Ukrainian) beauty blogger Marianna Podgurskaya. She actually played roles of both pregnant women on the photos. And first photos were actually taken by famous propagandist photographer Evgeniy Maloletka, rather than rescuers and witnesses as one would expect.”

Fleeing and without internet access, Marianna didn’t see those images until days later. “I received threats that they would come and find me, that I would be killed, that my child would be cut into pieces,” she said in the interview with the media outlet.

In the interview, she narrates what it’s like to find herself inside an information battle – all while giving birth to her daughter Veronika in a war zone.

“We had a quiet and simple life,” she said, “and then, of course, things turned upside down.” A series of explosions happened in the hospital on March 9. “You could hear everything flying around, shrapnel and stuff,” she said. “The sound was ringing in my ears for a very long time.”

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