Russia’s embassy in the UK was criticized for spreading false claims about the bombing of a children’s hospital in Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials said that three people had been killed and 17 others injured in Russia’s airstrike attack on a maternity hospital. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces are believed to have dropped a 900kg bomb on the site which left a massive crater in the ground.
An expectant mom was pictured standing wrapped in a blanket after a devastating Russian airstrike. She was also pictured covered in blood as she walked down the stairs carrying her belongings in the bombed-out facility. But a Russian embassy in the UK has claimed that the images from the Mariupol hospital bombing were faked.
An initial post from the embassy’s account shared pictures from the attack adorned with the word “fake”, and claimed that the maternity facility was “long non-operational” but instead had been used by armed forces and radicals, “namely the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion”.
In follow-up tweets on Thursday, it claimed that a victim of the attack had been “played” by a Ukrainian beauty blogger and also alleged that the pregnant woman had been made up to look like the victim of an attack.
Twitter Inc. has removed tweets from the Russian Embassy in the United Kingdom about the bombing of a children’s hospital in Mariupol for breaking its rules against denying violent events, the company said on Thursday.
A Twitter spokesperson said: “We took enforcement action against the Tweets you referenced as they were in violation of the Twitter Rules, specifically our Hateful Conduct and Abusive Behavior policies related to the denial of violent events.”
Russia has shifted its stance over the hospital bombing, with a mix of statements on Thursday that veered between aggressive denials and a call by the Kremlin to establish clear facts.
Moscow has cracked down on tech platforms during the invasion of Ukraine, which it calls a “special operation,” including restricting Twitter and blocking Meta-owned Facebook.
Twitter has also launched a privacy-protected version of its site, known as an “onion service”, which can be accessed through the dark web and could bypass such restrictions.
The embassy replied to a comment saying: “No, it’s the indeed pregnant beauty blogger Marianna Podgurskaya. She actually played the roles of both pregnant women in the photos. And first photos were actually taken by famous propagandist photographer Evgeniy Maloletka, rather than rescuers and witnesses as one would expect.”
They said later: “She is indeed. As she has some very realistic make-up. She is also doing well with her beauty blogs. Plus she could not be in the maternity house at the time of the strike, as it has long been taken by the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion who told all the staff to clear the place.”
A spokesperson for Boris Johnson told reporters: “It is clear that this is further disinformation. You have seen the pictures of the people who were wounded during that attack, and you have seen what the prime minister said in his tweet yesterday.”
The spokesperson said he was “not aware” that the Foreign Office had held “specific conversations” about reprimanding the embassy for the social media post. Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary, accused the embassy of publishing fake news and said it had been reported to Twitter.
Posts from the embassy’s Twitter account are following a similar trajectory to the messaging coming out of the Kremlin about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
On Wednesday, it posted an unfounded claim that Ukraine was “planning a provocation with toxins” in order to accuse Russia of using chemical weapons.
Britain and the US fear Russia could be preparing to use a chemical weapon in Ukraine after Kremlin officials made separate allegations, without firm evidence, that the US had been supporting a bioweapons program in Ukraine.
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