Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Ukrainian mother who lost an eye in ‘attempted assassination’ is Playboy cover star

‘Doctors in Ukraine said I was probably going to die,’ Iryna Bilotserkovets said after attack. ‘I didn’t agree’

Rachel Flynn
Friday 04 August 2023 12:20 BST
Comments
Iryna Bilotserkovets was featured on the first printed cover of Playboy in 18 months after going digital during the pandemic
Iryna Bilotserkovets was featured on the first printed cover of Playboy in 18 months after going digital during the pandemic (NO CREDIT)

A Ukrainian mother who lost an eye in a suspected assassination attempt has appeared as the cover star on the first Playboy printed since the Russian invasion.

Iryna Bilotserkovets, whose husband is an aide to Kyiv’s mayor Vitali Klitschko, posed with an eye mask and metal bikini after being caught in a gun attack just three days after Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year.

The mother of three was driving home with her children through a neighbourhood in Ukraine when her car was hit by several bullets.

Ms Bilotserkovets is the cover star for Playboy’s first printed issue in 18 months. (NO CREDIT)

Speaking to Playboy about life after the attack, she said: “Doctors in Ukraine said I was probably going to die. I didn’t agree.”

The model and TV presenter was forced to undergo major reconstructive surgery in a hospital in Berlin and has since become a symbol of resistance in Ukraine.

During the surgery, Ms Bilotserkovets lost an eye and was left with a broken jaw and significant scars on her body.

She said: “It was not a question of preserving my beauty; it was a question of whether I would live or not.”

Ms Bilotserkovets is part of the ‘Women stay strong’ edition (NO CREDIT)

Ms Bilotserkovets appeared on Playboy’s cover as part of its “Women stay strong” edition which looks at the “resilience of Ukrainian women who have been injured during the war but who have not lost their thirst for life”.

Talking of the injuries sustained in the attack, she said: “Stitches, scars, wounds everywhere; I was just Frankenstein’s monster. My jaw had shattered, like a twig.

“I no longer have a pretty face, but the rest of my body is beautiful.”

Ms Bilotserkovets’s husband is an aide to Kyiv Mayor Vitalii Klitschko, pictured here with a Kinzhal Russian hypersonic missile warhead, shot down by a Ukrainian Air Defence unit (REUTERS)

Ms Bilotserkovets now works to organise events for Ukrainian troops. In a statement, the American magazine called her the “heroine” of the new edition.

This edition marks the first time Playboy has printed an issue in the last 18 months after deciding to go online at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in