Rescued pregnant women in Mariupol: "They threatened to cut my child into pieces"

Marianna Vyshemirsky was heavily pregnant when her maternity hospital in Mariupol was hit by Russian bombs in March.

Rescued pregnant women in Mariupol: "They threatened to cut my child into pieces"

Marianna Vyshemirsky was heavily pregnant when her maternity hospital in Mariupol was hit by Russian bombs in March. The images shake the world. The BBC now reports the young woman of the subsequent threats against her and her child.

Her photo went around the world: the heavily pregnant Marianna Vyshemirsky is wrapped in a blanket, her face smeared with blood. At the beginning of March, Russian bombs fell on the maternity clinic in Mariupol where the young woman was staying. Photographers from the AP news agency document their escape from the destroyed building. Iconic images of the war of aggression against Ukraine. But shortly thereafter, the Russian leadership defamed Vyshemirsky: She was an actress and the photos were staged. The 29-year-old now reports to the BBC about her experiences - under the supervision of a pro-Russian blogger.

Before the war in Ukraine, Vyshemirsky was a successful beauty blogger on Instagram under her maiden name Marianna Podgurskaya. Vyshemirsky tells the British broadcaster that the pictures of her went viral in Mariupol, but she didn't notice at first. After the air strike, you had no internet for several days. When she was back on Instagram, her account was full of hate comments and threats.

"I received threats that they would find and kill me and cut my child to pieces," says Marianna Vyshemirsky. She rejects an alleged staging. "You could hear everything flying around, shrapnel and other things," says the young woman. "The noises echoed in my ears for a long time."

The Russian claims have since been refuted. AP photographers confirm there were air strikes and the photos are authentic. Vyshemirsky is still troubled by the fact that the pictures were used for false reports about her. "It was really humbling because I've been through it all." Together with the other pregnant women and the clinic staff, she fled to the basement to get safe from the attack, she reports to the BBC. Then some returned to get their belongings. Since she was only slightly injured, she also left. Other women would have been less fortunate.

However, Marianna Vyshemirsky is reluctant to criticize the Russian state in the BBC interview. Instead, she blames the AP photographers. They would have highlighted these in photos instead of interviewing other pregnant women to support reports on the authenticity of the attacks. In her opinion, this could also be the reason why some people "had the impression that everything was staged".

However, it is unclear how freely Vyshemirsky can speak in the BBC interview. A few days after her evacuation, she gives birth to her daughter Veronika. Her husband Yuri, a former worker at the embattled Azov steel mill, and they fled Mariupol, relatives told the BBC. Then they lost track for a long time, until Vyshemirsky appeared in a video by pro-Russian blogger Denis Seleznev - recorded in an area of ​​Donbass occupied by separatists. The same blogger also mediated the interview with the BBC and was also present during the conversation.

Vyshemirsky doesn't want to make any plans for the future, "because we don't know what tomorrow will bring." She is safe with her husband, she says. Her daughter came "at a difficult time," says Vyshemirsky, "but under the circumstances, it's better than if she hadn't come at all."


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