The first edition of Playboy to be released since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine features a Ukrainian model and mother of three who lost an eye and survived a suspected assassination attempt.
The first edition of Playboy to be printed in Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion has been published and features a survivor of a suspected assassination attempt as its cover star.
Iryna Bilotserkovets, a Ukrainian model and TV presenter, appears on the cover in a metal bikini and with a heart-shaped eyepatch. She was forced to undergo several rounds of reconstructive surgery after being caught in a gun attack in Kyiv on 26 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. The attack was blamed on pro-Russian forces. She lost an eye and was also left with scars all over her body from bullet wounds.
Mrs Bilotserkovets has emerged as a symbol of Ukrainian resistance and does not know whether she was the intended target of the shooting as the wife of a politician who is an aide to Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv.
She mentions in the magazine that she underwent surgery on her left eye in a hospital in Berlin and recalled: “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.”
“Doctors in Ukraine said I was probably going to die,” she continues. “I didn’t agree.”
“I no longer have a pretty face, but the rest of my body is beautiful,” said the model, who is now working with Ukraine’s Cultural Forces, an association of artists and musicians who mount morale-boosting events for troops on the front lines.
She appears on Playboy’s cover as part of its “Women Stay Strong” edition which is 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”.
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. The publisher says proceeds from the magazine will be donated to emergency medical equipment for the Ukrainian army.