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Russian LifeNews inadvertently told the truth about downed Malaysian airline

18.07.14 | Halya Coynash

  A screenshot from the video footage now removed  

Since Russian pro-Kremlin media are already suggesting that Ukraine brought down the Malaysian airliner, the following is a reminder of the first, damning, reports which came from the Kremlin-backed militants and Russian media, including  the LifeNews TV channel.  The latter’s report came shortly before it became clear that the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 had come down near the border between Ukraine and Russia, killing all 298 passengers and crew.

LifeNews reported that “Insurgents have reported a downed AN-26 [military transport plane] in the east of Ukraine. They say that at around 17.30 according to local time the plane was flying over the city of Torez in the Donetsk oblast.” 

The video shows what is almost certainly the Malaysian plane burning.

Shortly before this,  a post on the social media website VKontakte, purportedly from the militant leader,  Strelkov [Igor Girkin] stated that “

17.07.2014 17.50 

“In the vicinity of Torez we just downed an AN-26 plane, it’s lying somewhere behind the Progress Mine.

We warned them – don’t fly “in our sky”

The same image as in the LifeNews broadcast is given with the words that no residential area was touched or civilians hurt.

This post has now been removed, and Strelkov’s people are claiming it’s a fake.

Alexander Borodai, ‘prime minister’ of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic [DPR] has claimed that the plane was downed by the Ukrainian military and this appears to be the version which the Russian media are now assiduously pushing.

Even if the post really was a fake,  the fact remains that LifeNews and a number of other pro-Kremlin media which have consistently demonstrated close coordination with the militants showed video footage of the crash, citing militants as saying that they had felled a military plane.

On Thursday evening, Valentin Nalyvaichenko, head of the SBU [Ukraine’s Security Service] made public two intercepted calls which the SBU say show that the plane was downed by pro-Russian Cossack militants.  The first conversation is seemingly between Igor Bezler, a military commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Vasyl Geranin, the second between two militants.   The first reports that “we have just downed a plane”, and that they’re going to the scene to find the pilots and take photos.  The second is after one of the militants has discovered that they shot down a civilian plane.

The SBU has put out a recording with subtitles

“We don’t have the equipment”

Borodai’s claim that the militants did not have the capacity to fell a plane at 10 kilometres is false.  The DNP have brought down a number of military transport planes by now with surface to air missiles, and the militants themselves stated on June 29 that they would “protect the sky over Donetsk with Buk missile systems”   A pro-Kremlin political analyst stated back on July 13 that the militants were in possession of Buk surface to air missiles and were ready to use them.  The Buk missiles in the picture were photographed near Snizhne in the Donetsk oblast.  They are highly sophisticated equipment which you won’t find in a hardware shop, and which require very serious training to operate.  

A US official has confirmed that the plane was shot down.  “One radar system saw a surface-to-air missile system turn on and track an aircraft right before the plane went down Thursday, according to the official. A second system saw a heat signature at the time the airliner was hit, the official said. The United States is analyzing the trajectory of the missile to try to learn where the attack came from.”

Video footage was reported early on Thursday which appeared to prove that GRAD rockets were being fired from Russian territory.  There has also been talk this evening that the Malaysian airline could have been shot down from within Russia.  This does not necessarily clash with the reports from the militants themselves who could have simply wanted to ‘boast’ of another such ‘victory’, or could conceivably have tried to provide a cover for use of missiles from Russia whatever the target. 

The Russian media are now going flat out to try to prove that the Ukrainian military shot down the plane, while incredibly leaving intact previous reports where the militants are boasting of their new ‘hit’.

German journalist Boris Reitschuster reports that Russia Today has deleted the incriminating report, while the German version of Voice of Russia have not.  He may be right that English is being prioritized, with even the LifeNews Russian original item still on the site. The video footage in the latter (which the screenshot above is from) was, however, removed around midnight. 

An English report on RIA Novosti suggests that the Ukrainian military were to blame.  Quoting an unnamed “expert source”, it writes that “A Ukrainian army battalion of Buk air defence systems was deployed near the city of Donetsk a day before the crash of a Malaysian passenger plane on Thursday, making the downing of the aircraft by one of the missiles highly probable”.   The militants are not flying aircraft and there would therefore have been no reason for the Ukrainian military to be using a surface to air missile system.  It is the militants who have already shot down a number of Ukrainian military transport planes.

An especially manipulative item from the same RIA Novosti agency in Russian is entitled “Merkel demands an independent investigation of the plane crash in Donetsk”.   The text repeats three times that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that “Ukraine can expect a new tragic spiral of conflict if the presumed causes of the air disaster are confirmed”.  It then goes on to suggest that this could be a “repetition of the 2001 tragedy” (when the Ukrainian military did bring down a plane from Novosibirsk to Tel Aviv).  The report ends by stating that the militants do not have the appropriate weapons, with the assertion by Alexander Borodai subjected to no scrutiny or question.

It has been confirmed that the plane was shot down.  It is known who had used  surface to air missiles to bring down Ukrainian military aircraft and who boasted of having done the same on early Thursday evening.  Removal of incriminating videos and manipulative media coverage cannot erase that.

298 people were killed on Thursday evening, among them eighty children.  Those who play with human life for dubious geopolitical gain must be stopped. 

see also:
Donetsk journalist Anton Skyba abducted by Kremlin-backed militants
10 foreign journalists detained by armed militants near Donetsk morgue
Will the West sleep through this final wake-up call?
Militants accused of deliberately shooting at Severodonetsk residential area
Sent to be shot
The EU’s Opaque Dealings with Ukraine
Whose anti-Semitic and Homophobic Choice?
What should they talk about, Mr Putin?
The Peace that chokes Russia
EU’s Clear and Consistent Capitulation?
Russian tanks and Ukrainian orphans in Moscow’s unabated offensive
Check your sources, Mr Lavrov
Russian media claims ‘genocide’ in Semenivka [Donbas]

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