1706550869 War in Ukraine the mother who became a symbol of

War in Ukraine: the mother who became a symbol of the Mariupol maternity hospital bombing calls for people to vote for Vladimir Putin

“For me, this choice is obvious,” explains Mariana Vyshegirskaya, also known as the “Madonna of Mariupol,” on Instagram.

War in Ukraine the mother who became a symbol of

Published on January 29, 2024 3:42 p.m

Reading time: 2 minutesMariana Vyshegirskaya was evacuated from the maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, after a Russian attack on March 9, 2022.  (MSTYSLAV CHERNOV / SIPA)

Mariana Vyshegirskaya was evacuated from the maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, after a Russian attack on March 9, 2022. (MSTYSLAV CHERNOV / SIPA)

The photo, broadcast by the American agency Associated Press, went around the world. A young pregnant woman, covered in blood and looking gaunt, stands in front of the ruins of a maternity ward in Mariupol, southern Ukraine, that was bombed by Russian forces on March 9, 2022. Her name is Marianna Vyshemirskaya, but the media that tells her story calls her “Madonna of Mariupol.” A little less than two years later, she spoke again, but this time to show her support for Russia and its President Vladimir Putin, his re-election candidate.

The Ukrainian announced on Instagram that she had brought her signature as part of the collection before the presidential election. “For me, this choice is obvious,” she wrote on January 21, praising the policies and decisions of the outgoing Russian president, thanks to which “Russia is developing dynamically despite sanctions and all the problems.”

In the article dedicated to her, the Ukrainian media RBC takes stock of the reactions of Internet users outraged by this support and other insults towards the “Madonna of Mariupol”. According to the daily, Marianna Vyshemirskaya, who is originally from Donetsk in Ukraine's territories in the hands of Russian separatists, posts “false information from the Kremlin and praises the Russian government” on her blog.

In an interview with the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda a year after the events, she accused the Ukrainian armed forces of “hiding” behind the civilians in the maternity ward and “violating the Geneva Convention for the Protection of the Public during Hostilities.” . She accused the Associated Press journalists who published her photo and reported her story in Western media of “not complying.” [de son témoignage] what they needed” and that she had “wanted the death” of her baby.

A city of martyrs

The port city on the Sea of ​​Azov was besieged by Russian forces and pro-Russian separatists for weeks and came under fire from Moscow in the spring of 2022. After an attack on the city's maternity hospital left three people dead, including a child, a theater where hundreds of families had sought refuge was also hit by a strike a few days later.

“This bombing of the Mariupol maternity ward is inhumane, disgusting, cruel and tragic,” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, in an interview with franceinfo. “I am convinced that this could be a war crime and that it really needs an investigation,” she added, while Emmanuel Macron condemned “an unworthy act of war.”

At the time, Moscow initially justified the bombing by saying it was welcoming a battalion of Ukrainian fighters, before denouncing it as “a set-up.” Describing the Russian army's strategy in this martyr city, Jean-Paul Palomeros, former chief of staff of the French Air Force and former NATO supreme commander, explained: “It is violence in its purest form, to show everything that tries.” The resistance must be merciless be counteracted. (…) At this stage, Putin doesn't care. He wants to conquer territory and capture the imagination by showing that there is no other way out but to submit.”