By RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by AFP
RUSSIA is calling for an objective, politics-free and unprejudiced investigation of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 tragedy which took place five years ago this week.
Russian Foreign Ministry’s Information and Press Department said in a statement yesterday that MH17 investigations had been “biased and designed to incriminate the country”.
“We strongly believe that only by conducting the investigation in a truly politics-free and professional manner, can we identify what caused the crash and obtain the truth once and for all.
“Russia calls on the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to focus on its main task, which is to impartially analyse all the available data in order to identify the true causes of what happened there and find those who are behind this tragic event,” according to the statement shared by the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Malaysia.
Two investigations were previously opened for MH17 — a technical investigation into the crash, and a criminal inquiry to identify the responsible individuals.
In both cases, Russia said provisional assumptions were made for the sole purpose of substantiating accusations of Russia’s involvement in the crash.
Moscow claimed that facts which did not fit the original assumptions were quietly swept under the carpet or dismissed under far-fetched pretexts.
It also dismissed accusations that the country is refusing to fully cooperate with the investigation and is obstructing it.
In keeping with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2166, the ministry said Russia has always sought to facilitate the investigation, including by sharing information with the JIT.
Russia submitted the results of a full-scale experiment carried out by Almaz-Antey Corp, the original radio location data refuting the possibility of launching a missile from a specific area designated by the technical investigation into the reasons of the crash.
“At the request of the investigators, Russia declassified for the first time ever documents on the BUK surface-to-air missile complex, (which) proved that the missile that downed the aircraft, according to the JIT, belonged to Ukraine and many other things.
“Unfortunately, all these unique data are insistently ignored and not taken into consideration by the investigation or silenced during the JIT’s news events that increasingly resemble political propaganda shows,” the statement added.
Russia also raised issues on sources of evidence including from social media, poor quality images and video footage, data from Ukrainian special services and investigations by would-be independent bloggers.
Meanwhile, Russia queried why there was no accusation against Ukraine for failing to close its airspace above the conflicted area, despite lawsuits to this effect against Ukraine having been referred to the European Court of Human Rights.
On July 17, 2014, MH17 was shot down by a BUK anti-aircraft missile over conflict-ridden eastern Ukraine, killing 298 people on board.
En route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, 43 Malaysians (including 15 crew members), 193 Dutch, 38 Australians, 12 Indonesians, 10 Britons and a few others from various countries perished along with the Boeing 777.
On June 19 this year, international investigators charged four people with murder over the shooting down of MH17.
They are three Russian nationals — Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Oleg Pulatov — and one Ukrainian, Leonid Kharchenko.
The four pleaded not guilty and will be tried on March 9, 2020, in the Netherlands.
However, they are likely to be tried in absentia as Russia does not extradite its nationals for prosecution.
Malaysia, which was only invited later to join the JIT, is taking a more neutral stance before any conclusion is made with more convincing proof.