Ukrainian model who survived 'assassination' poses for Playboy in metal bikini

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Iryna Bilotserkovets, a model and TV presenter, is on the cover wearing an eyepatch
Iryna Bilotserkovets, a model and TV presenter, is on the cover wearing an eyepatch

The wife of a Ukrainian politician who survived a suspected assassination attempt is Playboy's cover girl for the first edition to be printed since war broke out.

Iryna Bilotserkovets, a model and TV presenter, is seen on the cover wearing an eyepatch and a metal bikini. Just three days after Russia first invaded Ukraine, Iryna's car was struck by bullets in the capital Kyiv. As the wife of a politician who is an aide to Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, it has been interpreted as an assassination attempt by pro-Russian forces. She was rushed over the border to a hospital in Berlin, where she underwent months of emergency treatment and reconstructive surgery.

Speaking to the magazine about the first time she saw herself in a mirror after treatment, she said: "An eye missing, tubes sticking out everywhere, hair shaved off from surgery. Stitches, scars, wounds everywhere; I was just Frankenstein’s monster. My jaw had shattered, like a twig." She added: “I no longer have a pretty face, but the rest of my body is beautiful."

Ukrainian model who survived 'assassination' poses for Playboy in metal bikini eideziqkeiqhhinvThe cover for Playboy Ukraine’s "Women Stay Strong" edition
Ukrainian model who survived 'assassination' poses for Playboy in metal bikiniIryna poses with the magazine on the frontline

It was February 26, 2022, when Iryna was driving her three children towards their family home in a Kyiv neighbourhood when her car was hit by gunfire. She said in the aftermath of the attack that all she remembered was a strong pain in her head. She had to undergo four operations and was left with a missing eye, a broken jaw, and scars over her body.

She told Playboy: "It was not a question of preserving my beauty; it was a question of whether I would live or not. Doctors in Ukraine said I was probably going to die. I didn’t agree, and neither did my husband."

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Iryna was featured in the magazine as one of the heroines of its "Women Stay Strong" edition, which is "dedicated to the resilience of Ukrainian women who have been injured during the war, but who have not lost their thirst for life and are an example of strength and motivation."

The publisher said proceeds from the magazine will be donated to emergency medical equipment for the Ukrainian army. When the war broke out, the magazine ceased printing the physical magazine and continued operating solely online with proceeds going toward purchasing ambulances for the army.

Meanwhile, today Russia accused Ukraine of attacking its Black Sea navy base in the port of Novorossiysk with sea drones. The attack is the first time a commercial Russian port has been targeted in the 18-month war. The city is a major port on the Black Sea and hosts a naval base, shipbuilding yards and an oil terminal. It is a key port for Russian exports.

Footage published on Russian social media channels appeared to show a ship firing into the sea and a burning object exploding. Ukrainian agencies carried footage from social media channels they suggested showed a Russian ship listing to one side after the attack.

Rachel Hagan

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