MH17 Remembrance and Calls for Accountability. Except on Russian Media
Ceremonies and remembrance gatherings have been held in the Netherlands and many other countries in memory of the passengers of the MH17 Malaysian Airliner downed by a Russian Buk missile over Russian-backed militant-controlled Donbas.
Around two thousand relatives of the 298 victims were present at the unveiling of a memorial at Vijfhuizen park, near Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. The names of all 298 passengers and crew were read out, with trees planted for each, in the shape of a green ribbon.
Russia has systematically blocked any attempts to establish an international tribunal over the disaster and has tried to distort information, including recently, or push the narrative that nothing can be known and that all versions remain on the table.
They do not. An international investigative team concluded in September 2016 that the Russian-made Buk missile system that was used to down the airliner had been brought into Ukraine from Russia shortly before it was shot down and then quickly smuggled back to Russia afterward.
The Dutch government has said that it plans to try those it believes responsible, but Russia would be certain to refuse to extradite people.
Bellingcat on Monday published a new study on their entire investigation which presents clear evidence that Russia provided the Buk missile launcher and swiftly hid it.
A plaque placed on Sunday outside the Russian embassy at the Hague. The words in Russian read: Humanity is higher than politics
While not covering the lies and distortions found on Russia Today and all Russian-controlled media on this anniversary, a valuable summary of the disinformation methods used is given by the EU’s monitoring bureau.
“Very detailed evidence
Now, three years after, very detailed evidence has been gathered about the event. The governments of the states who lost most citizens in the catastrophe have set up a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which has concluded that the plane was shot down by a BUK missile located in an area controlled by the Russia-supported rebels. Independent open source journalistic investigation has traced the missile launcher and the people who operated it from Russia into Ukraine and back again into Russia, and the Joint Investigation Team has agreed with these conclusions. With the anniversary approaching later this month, the states which are members of the Joint Investigation Team have collectively decided that the prosecution of suspects in the downing of flight MH17 can take place in the Netherlands.
Pro-Kremlin media aim at creating confusion
But in the world of pro-Kremlin media, things are different. Since the day of the attack, these outlets have, perhaps more eagerly and systematically than in regards to any other issue, fabricated and disseminated a series of alternative stories with the clear aim of muddying the waters and creating the false impression that there is no clarity. The pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign in regards to the downing of flight MH17 is a textbook example of the important point that these kinds of campaigns rarely aim at making us believe in one particular truth. No, the aim has been and remains to confuse us, to promote the false belief that no clarity has been achieved and that we will probably never learn what really happened.
The long list of pro-Kremlin disinformation about MH17
The latest example of pro-Kremlin disinformation about MH17 came last week, as we reported in the latest issue of the Disinformation Review, when different pro-Kremlin media, among them Lenta.ru, claimed that newly emerged documentation and testimonies prove that MH17 was downed in a carefully planned operation by Ukraine’s armed forces. It is telling that Lenta.ru’s story refers to the the findings of the Joint Investigation Team as a “versiya”, i.e. a “version” – meaning just one explanation of many. This formulation is at the core of the narrative of the confusion campaign in pro-Kremlin media.
As we have earlier reported, most recently in January, the list of “versions”, or alleged “theories”, in pro-Kremlin media is long – the story brought forward by Lenta.ru can be added to this list:
1. Ukrainian fighter jets were operating in the area around the crash, supposedly confirmed by a Spanish air traffic controller working in Ukraine named Carlos (Rossiya/Vesti: http://bit.ly/2evv8Xa);
2. The aim of the Ukrainian Air Force had been to shoot down President Putin’s plane (Lifenews: http://bit.ly/2eRF7nR);
3. For some “unknown reasons”, Ukraine had ordered the plane to descend just before the catastrophe (also Lifenews);
4. Local eyewitnesses said that some of the dead bodies had looked “unfresh”, and suggested that the plane had been loaded with dead bodies when it took off from Amsterdam (Russkaya Vesna: http://bit.ly/1n0rQbC);
5. MH17 was in fact flight MH370, which disappeared in March 2014 in Asia, a claim based on the untrue suggestion that no relatives of those killed on board MH17 had been identified (News2: http://bit.ly/2eGpWNO).
The Russian Government has also attempted to explain what happened, in different versions:
6. In July 2014, the Russian Ministry of Defence presented radar imagery to allege there was a Ukrainian jet close to MH17, and that Ukraine had moved BUK missiles closer to “rebel” territory;
7. Two years later, the Russian Ministry of Defence presented a different and contradictory set of radar imagery.
In addition, photo-shopped images were used to support the Kremlin’s narrative on MH17. See for example the below images, the first an original Reuters photo, the second a faked version shared on Facebook http://bit.ly/2hj9GDe; and a report on this pro-Kremlin fake here: http://f24.my/2i5LN2a.
(It is worth noting that most of the stories above are not based on any kind of evidence, e.g. “Carlos” in Example 1 never existed, and in any case there are no Spanish air controllers in the area).