The Australian Police confirmed that some documents in the case of MH17, common platform Bonanza Media are authentic.
It is noted that this document was prepared by Federal police as part of the ongoing investigation. Dutch prosecutors refused to comment on the authenticity.
One of the leaked documents contains a transcript of the conversation of German journalist Billy six’s with representatives of law enforcement agencies of Australia in relation to the witnesses who saw the day of the crash MH17 Ukrainian fighter jets.
The second document says that a year after the Australian disaster experts worked with non-original cropped images that, as it turned out, was edited.
In the third paper, Dutch intelligence concludes, has no information about the presence of any BUK missile system near the crash site of MH17.
The fourth document is a transcript of the conversation between the Dutch police with an unknown witness who is sure that few minutes before the tragedy two Ukrainian fighters appeared in that area.
Malaysia Airlines Berhad, colloquially known as Malaysia Airlines, is Malaysia’s flag carrier. The airline has been struggling for the past few years following several incidents involving one missing flight (MH370) and another being shot down over eastern Ukraine (MH17). Now, Malaysia Airlines - wholly owned by Khazanah Nasional Berhad, a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund company – is considering selling its shares in a bid to recover from unprofitability.
On 20 January 2020, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad confirmed that Malaysia Airlines had received five proposals. Sources say that the proposals were submitted by AirAsia, Malindo Air, Lion Air, Air France-KLM alliance and Japan Airlines. As the discussion for the proposal is confidential, the details were not revealed to the public.
The question now is whether this bid is a good move? Tracing back Malaysia Airlines’ history and past struggles might answer this question.
Malaysia Airlines was founded in Singapore on 12 October, 1937 as Malayan Airways Limited. The first commercial flight was only boarded in 1947, some 10 years later. When the Federation of Malaysia was established in 1963, the airline’s name changed to Malaysian Airways. Then, following Singapore’s separation from Malaysia in 1965, the airline’s name was changed again to Malaysia-Singapore Airlines before the airline ceased operations after six years in 1972 when both, Malaysia and Singapore decided to establish their own flag carriers – Malaysian Airline System (MAS) and Singapore Airlines.
During the 1980s, the economic boom in Malaysia helped MAS grow, and by the end of the decade MAS became the first airline in Southeast Asia to serve intercontinental flights to South America.
However, during the Asian Financial Crisis, just like other companies in Asia, MAS suffered losses against its financial year for about five years. One of the damage control efforts was to discontinue unprofitable routes out of Malaysia. In 2003, MAS recovered from its losses and achieved some profit before 2005 where it suffered another period of unprofitability due to rising fuel prices, escalated handling and landing fees, and other factors.
Idris Jala was appointed as the new CEO of MAS and launched its Business Turnaround Plan in 2006. MAS posted a record profit in 2007 ending a series of losses since 2005. Route rationalising was one of the major contributors other than improving MAS’ operation system.
In 2011, MAS recorded a net loss of RM2.52 billion (US$613 million) - the largest ever recorded in the company’s history - due to rising fuel costs. Idris Jala departed from MAS in 2009 to accept a position in the country’s Cabinet. The new CEO, Tengku Azmil Zahruddin took over the reins thereafter before newly-appointed CEO, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, was appointed in 2011. Again, the first initiative was to discontinue the unprofitable routes. MAS then recorded profits in 2013 and became a member of the Oneworld Alliance, a leading global airline alliance.
In 2014, MAS struggled to compete with AirAsia, the now-famous Malaysian low-cost carrier. Then, the mysterious flight disappearance of MH370 in March 2014 added to its financial struggles. People started developing doubts about flying with the country’s flag carrier.
The search for the missing plane has become one of the costliest endeavours in aviation history, centred around the South China and Andaman seas initially before shifting to the Indian Ocean. As a result, MAS’ stock went down as much as 20 percent following the disappearance of MH370 and fell 80 percent over the previous five years.
Three months after the tragic MH370 incident, another Malaysia Airlines flight, MH17, was shot down while flying over Eastern Ukraine. The incident has become widely publicised because of the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine between Russia and the Ukraine. These two incidents have greatly contributed to MAS’ financial year losses.
On the proposed recovery plan, Khazanah Nasional Berhad - then the majority shareholder of MAS - announced that it would buy the shares of minority shareholders. MAS will compensate shareholders with premium closing price shares as part of Khazanah’s plan to restructure and rebrand MAS.
On 29 August 2014, Khazanah issued a report on the recovery plan that included cutting off 6,000 staff and focusing on regional destinations rather than long-haul routes. In 2015, MAS rebranded its name to Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) and appointed a new CEO, Christoph Mueller.
In less than a year, Christoph resigned from the post, citing changing personal circumstances as the reason. It was announced in 2016 that the new CEO, Peter Bellew would take over. He too decided to resign a year later. Currently, Captain Izham Ismail, a former Malaysia Airlines pilot is the new CEO of MAB.
Following the numerous CEO changes and to recover profitability – Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the parent company of MAB spearheaded by the government of Malaysia – has come up with an idea to offer the company’s shares to airline companies who can propose a strategic plan en route to profitability.
With little details available to the public, several major newspapers in Malaysia have speculated that the Malaysian government and Khazanah are leaning towards selecting the AirAsia Group for this plan. The AirAsia Group has proposed to take over the shares offered by Khazanah and for AirAsia X Berhad to merge with Malaysia Airlines, potentially making the merged company a Malaysian/ASEAN champion competitor.
Proposals have been submitted by foreign carriers as well. The Air France-KLM alliance has proposed to take a 49 percent stake while Japan Airlines wants a 25 percent stake in Khazanah. This is not a surprise as the relationship between Malaysia and Japan has been improving following the samurai bond issuance by Japan in 2019. Things may not be so smooth with an Air France-KLM alliance though, as both parties belong to different airline alliances: Oneworld for Malaysia Airlines and Skyteam for Air France-KLM.
The bids are still being reviewed and Malaysia needs to carefully consider the proposals made. As Malaysia Airlines is the flag carrier of Malaysia and a national symbol, the decision made by Malaysia will be crucial in deciding the future of the aviation industry in the country.
The three are 44-year-old Capt. Ian McBeth of Great Falls, Montana, who was piloting the downed C-130 plane; First Officer Paul Clyde Hudson, age 42, of Buckeye, Arizona; and 43-year-old Flight Engineer Rick DeMorgan Jr., who lived in Navarre, Florida, Coulson.
"The aviation industry and emergency service sector is a small community both in Australia and around the world," Coulson said. "This will be deeply felt by all."All three men were veterans of the US military, Coulson said. The cause of the crash is not yet known.
A government official in Australia said the water tanker plane had been chartered by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service. The crew had been on a firebombing mission in the state of New South Wales, where fires are still burning out of control, when the accident occurred, Coulson said earlier. According to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, contact was lost with the C-130 water-bombing plane shortly before 1:30 p.m. local time on Thursday.
Fires have been burning in New South Wales for months, and the US and other countries have been lending firefighting assistance and personnel. The US said Wednesday it's sending two more 20-person crews, only days after sending air support personnel and other emergency management teams. The US has deployed more than 200 fire staff to Australia so far, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
Until Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 was shot down just before dawn in Tehran on Jan. 8, the tempting narrative was that the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014 was a black swan event.
Iran’s acknowledgment that it shot down PS752 removes that doubt and painfully validates our 5.5 years of work on airspace risk awareness, but it also makes clear that this work was not enough to prevent a repeat tragedy. It is now evident that governments must play a more active role in preventing airlines from flying in conflict zones.
The work the aviation industry has done post-MH17 has not been for nothing. Far from it. Cooperation and collaboration around risk among airlines and among government departments, which was largely frowned upon before MH17, has become acceptable.
Risk awareness is higher than ever before. Information-sharing has moved from small, closed circles to large, open groups.
But underlying that work was an uncertainty around the need for it all. The reason: Risk is nebulous.
A decision to avoid risk averts a situation that might occur. Despite the usual scales of low, medium, and high, the true likelihood is always low. There is no data to provide answers afterward: What did not happen cannot be measured. Airline security managers are therefore under tremendous pressure. Money spent on risk avoidance has no clear billing code. But the temptation to err on the side of saving costs is ever present.
Herein lies the impasse. The ultimate final decision in approach to risk lies with the airline or aircraft operator, which is in most cases a business. Passengers and pilots have an undeniable first priority to stay alive.
A business has the same priority, of course. Every decision in a business will ultimately be a commercial decision to ensure it stays alive. This explains why airlines continued to fly to Tehran even when it was abundantly clear this was a shootdown event.
A lesson from the last five years of our work is that like businesses under pressure to fly through conflict zones, countries cannot be relied upon to close risky airspace or issue damaging guidance about their own territories. Iran is not alone in this. A string of other nations have made similar decisions: Cyprus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Turkey. Only on one occasion—Pakistan, in 2019—has a national authority closed its airspace for reasons of conflict-zone risk. Governments have more pressing motivations in trade, tourism and commerce. This will not change.
And yet government involvement is what is needed to solve things. The civil aviation industry has done what is within its power—there are no new initiatives that can take us further.
The position that aircraft operators are solely responsible for making risk decisions favors the handful of large airlines that have the resources to continually assess risk. The overwhelming majority cannot. For thousands of operators, relying on internal or external support to make qualified, informed essential risk decisions is simply not practical. The operational staffing of even a medium-size airline is small, especially at night, when most rapid-onset risk situations occur.
Right now, only a handful of countries are active in prohibiting their carriers from risky areas. But it works.
On the night in question, the U.S. had issued a notice to airmen that prevented its pilots and carriers from operating in Iran, several hours before the shootdown. If there were going to be an incident, it would not involve a U.S. aircraft.
When the U.S. prevents its carriers from flying through a conflict zone, many airlines follow—especially when backed up by Germany, France or the UK. But no system, organization or clear channel exists for that information to be passed to all concerned. This must change.
Each state has a duty to care for its citizens. Most governments have the resources to assess risk. This duty of care needs to be extended to pilots and passengers aboard aircraft.
In the first weeks of 2020, international travel advice about Iraq and Iran from the foreign affairs departments of many countries was clear: Do not travel. That same advice needs to extend to aircraft operators: Do not fly.
Mark Zee is the founder of Opsgroup, an organization of 7,000 members working in international flight operations that share information to improve awareness of risk, operational procedures and changes after MH17 exposed the lack of collaboration in the industry. He also manages Safe Airspace: The Conflict Zone & Risk Database.
A Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 crashed shortly after take-off in Iran on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board.
In total, 82 Iranians and 63 Canadians were on board the Kyiv-bound Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) Flight PS752, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said.
There were also 11 victims - including nine crew members - from Ukraine, four Afghans, four Britons and three Germans.
Iran's head of emergency operations said 147 of the victims were Iranian, which suggests many of the foreign nationals held dual nationality.
A list of passengers was released by the airline, but the BBC is awaiting confirmation from people known to the victims.
Canada 'shocked and saddened'
The majority of the passengers on the flight were headed for Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed. Out of the 176 victims, 138 had listed Canada as their final destination.
Of them, 57 of them carried a Canadian passport, but many others were foreign students, permanent residents or visitors.
Initially, the number of Canadian victims was given as 63.
A number of the passengers on board the plane were reportedly students and university staff from Canada returning at the end of the holidays.
The tragedy was a national one, touching many communities across the country.
Ardalan Ebnoddin Hamidi, Niloofar Razzaghi and their teenage son Kamyar, a family of three from Vancouver were returning from Iran where they had taken a short vacation and were confirmed to have been on the flight.
The University of British Columbia said it is mourning the loss of Mehran Abtahi, a postdoctoral research fellow, and sibling alumnus Zeynab Asadi Lari and Mohammad Asadi Lari.
"She was full of dreams, and now they're gone," Elnaz Morshedi told the BBC of her friend Zeynab Asadi Lari, who was studying health sciences.
Her brother Mohammmad was the co-founder of STEM fellowship, a youth-run charity that helps students in maths and sciences.
Other victims from the west coast province include Delaram Dadashnejad, an international student studying nutrition at a college in Vancouver, and couple Naser Pourshaban Oshibi and Firouzeh Madani.
The University of Alberta confirmed that 10 members of the institution's community were killed in the tragedy.
Pedram Mousavi and Mojgan Daneshmand, a married couple who taught engineering at the University of Alberta, were killed in the crash, along with their two daughters, Daria, 14, and Dorina, 9.
Arash Pourzarabi, 26,and Pouneh Gourji, 25, were graduate students in computer science at the university, and had gone to Iran for their wedding.
Other students who died included Elnaz Nabiyi, Nasim Rahmanifar, and Amir Saeedinia, as well as alumnus Mohammad Mahdi Elyasi, who studied mechanical engineering and graduated in 2017.
Obstetrician Shekoufeh Choupannejad, her daughter Saba Saadat, who was studying medicine at the university, and Sara, who had recently graduated, were also among those on the flight
The "community is reeling from this loss," said university president David Turpin on Thursday.
Also from the province of Alberta was Kasra Saati, an aircraft mechanic formerly with Viking Air, the CBC confirmed.
Victims from Winnipeg included Forough Khadem, described "as a promising scientist and a dear friend," by her colleague E Eftekharpour.
Graduate student Amirhossein Ghassemi was studying biomedical engineering.
"I can't use past tense. I think he's coming back. We play again. We talk again. It's too difficult to use past tense, too difficult. No one can believe it," his friend Amir Shirzadi told CTV News.
Amirhossein Bahabadi Ghorbani, 21, was studying science at the University of Manitoba and hoped to become a doctor, his roommate told the CBC.
CBC also confirmed that a family of three from that city - Mohammad Mahdi Sadeghi, his wife, Bahareh Hajesfandiari, and their daughter, Anisa Sadeghi, were travelling together on the flight.
Farzaneh Naderi, a customer service manager at Walmart, and her 11-year-old son Noojan Sadr were also killed.
Many of the victims were returning to their homes in Toronto and other nearby cities in the province of Ontario.
They included Ghanimat Azhdari - a PhD student at the University of Guelph, Ontario. She specialised in promoting the rights of indigenous groups and her research group described her as "cherished and loved".
Toronto resident Alina Tarbhai was also among the victims, her employer, the Ontario Secondary School Teacher's Federation (OSSTF), told the BBC. Her mother Afifa Tarbhai was also on board.
The University of Windsor, Ontario, confirmed five people from their school had died on the plane. PhD student Hamid Kokab Setareh and his wife Samira Bashiri, who was also a researcher at the school, were among those killed.
Omid Arsalani told CBC that his sister Evin Arsalani, 30, had travelled to Iran to attend a wedding with her husband, Hiva Molani, 38, and their one-year-old daughter Kurdia. All three were killed in the crash.
The University of Toronto confirmed the loss of students Mojtaba Abbasnezhad, Mohammad Amin Beiruti, and Mohammad Amin Jebelli, and Mohammad Salehe.
Seyed Hossein Mortazavi, a childhood friend of Mohammad Salehe, said he was a bit reserved and shy but a brilliant computer programmer whose talent was widely recognised.
McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario confirmed the loss of PhD students Iman Aghabali and Mehdi Eshaghian, as well as of former postdoctoral researcher Siavash Maghsoudlou Estarabadi.
The CBC confirmed that Mahdieh Ghassemi and her two children Arsan Niazi and Arnica Niazi, were on the flight.
Tirgan, an Iranian cultural charity, said "it is with a heavy heart that we bid farewell" to some volunteers with their organisation, including couple Parinaz and Iman Ghaderpanah.
The organisation said it was joining in mourning with another volunteer, Hamed Esmaeilion, who lost his wife Parisa Eghbalian, and their daughter Reera Esmaeilion.
Western University said it was mourning four international students: Ghazal Nourian, Milad Nahavandi, Hadis Hayatdavoudi, Sajedeh Saraeian.
The University of Waterloo shared the news "with heavy hearts" that their community had lost two PhD students Marzieh (Mari) Foroutan and Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani.
Engineer Siavash Ghafouri-Azar was returning home with his new wife, Sara Mamani, when the plane crashed. The couple had just bought their first home near the Canadian city of Montreal.
His uncle, Reza Ghafouri-Azar, told the BBC "I cannot come up with words for my kind, dedicated nephew."
"He has been a very positive and passionate from childhood until his soul's departure from his body. Rest in peace my dearest side by your beloved wife," he said.
Mr Ghafouri-Azar is a professor of engineering in Toronto, and he introduced his nephew to Ali Dolatabadi, an engineering professor at Concordia University who would become Siavash's thesis supervisor.
"It is a great loss," Mr Dolatabadi told the BBC. "He was very intelligent, a gentleman. He had a kind and a gentle soul." He said his wife Sarah Mamani was "very kind, very polite". The couple were looking forward to throwing a housewarming party in the New Year.
Armin Morattab was worried when his twin Arvin Morattab, called him from the airport in Tehran, amid reports that Iran had fired missiles at US targets in Iraq.
"He said he was coming back home soon," Mr Morattab told the Montreal Gazette.
Arvin Morattab and his wife Aida Farzaneh were both killed.
The Gazette also confirmed that Mohammad Moeini, from Quebec, was also killed.
Global News confirmed that five of the victims have ties to Nova Scotia, a province on Canada's east coast.
Dalhousie University student Masoumeh Ghavi, her sister, Mandieh Ghavi, were both killed, as was local dentist Dr. Sharieh Faghihi, and two graduate students at St Mary's University, Maryam Malek and Fatemeh Mahmoodi.
Ali Nafarieh, a professor at Dalhousie and president of the Iranian Cultural Association of Nova Scotia, employed Masoumeh Ghavi part-time at his IT company. He says she was one of the university's "top students".
"I remember she has always a smile on her face. What she brought in our company in addition to skills and knowledge and experience was her energy. She changed the atmosphere over there. We'll miss her a lot," he told CTV News.
We have no information on the 82 Iranian nationals who died.
Tributes to British victims
Four British nationals were among the victims.
Three have been named as Mohammed Reza Kadkhoda Zadeh, who owned a dry cleaners in West Sussex, BP engineer Sam Zokaei from Twickenham, and and PhD student and engineer Saeed Tahmasebi, who lived in Dartford.
Last year, Mr Tahmasebi married his Iranian partner, Niloufar Ebrahim, who was also listed as a passenger on the plane.
Swedish children feared dead
Ten Swedish nationals died in the crash. Many of them are believed to have also had Iranian citizenship.
Swedish media report that several children were among the victims.
Sweden's foreign ministry confirmed that Swedes were among those killed. It provided no further details.
Ukrainian airline crew
Nine of the 11 Ukrainian nationals killed were staff at Ukraine International Airlines (UIA).
Valeriia Ovcharuk, 28, and Mariia Mykytiuk, 24, were among the flight attendants who died.
On their social media accounts, which are now being filled with tributes, they frequently shared photographs from their travels.
Valeria posted just two weeks ago from a hotel in Bangkok with the caption: "Work, I love you."
Ihor Matkov, was flight PS752's chief attendant. The other three flight attendants were named by the airline as Kateryna Statnik, Yuliia Solohub and Denys Lykhno.
Three pilots were on board at the time of the accident: Captain Volodymyr Gaponenko, First Officer Serhii Khomenko and instructor Oleksiy Naumkin.
All three had between 7,600 and 12,000 hours experience flying a 737 aircraft, according to the airline.
A former UIA pilot said he had flown together with each of the three pilots. Writing on Facebook, Yuri, who wanted to be known only by his first name, described them as "great pilots".
The number of people killed in crashes of large commercial planes fell by more than 50% in 2019, according to an aviation industry study.
Last year 257 fatalities were recorded, compared to 534 in 2018, according to aviation consultancy To70.
That's despite the high-profile Boeing 737 Max crash in Ethiopia in March.
The decrease follows a general trend for the industry that's seen aviation fatalities fall even as air travel has increased sharply.
In 2019 there were 86 accidents involving large commercial planes, including eight fatal incidents, resulting in 257 fatalities, Dutch aviation consultancy To70 said.
The 157 people killed in a crash involving Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March accounted for more than half of those deaths.
There was one fatal accident involving large commercial passenger planes for every 5.58 million flights, according to the report.
Last year was "one of the safest years ever for commercial aviation", according to accident tracking website the Aviation Safety Network.
In 2018, 160 incidents were recorded, including 13 fatal accidents, accounting for some 534 deaths.
The global aviation industry's safest year on record was 2017. There were no fatal passenger jet crashes that year, and only two fatal accidents involving regional turboprops that resulted in 13 deaths.
The study includes passengers, air crew, and anyone killed on the ground in a plane accident.
The types of planes covered by the research are the aircraft used by the vast majority of air passengers around the world.
The study did not include small commuter planes, and some smaller turboprop aircraft.
It also did not cover accidents involving military flights, training flights, private flights, cargo planes, and helicopters.
Air passenger safety was under intense scrutiny in 2019 after two crashes in close succession of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft.
In October 2018, a Boeing 737 Max operated by Lion Air crashed, killing all 189 people on board.
Five months later an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed, killing 157, after which the entire 737 Max fleet was grounded.
Shortly after the beginning of the MH17 trial, senior prosecutor Fred Westerbeke became the head of the Rotterdam police, the head of the Ukrainian MH17 investigators was also dismissed.
Before the MH-17 process begins, everything seems to move. Fred Westerbeke, who headed the JIT investigation as a public prosecutor, also responsible for other investigations in the field of terrorism and organized crime, will become the head of the Rotterdam police force on April 1. The move is a remarkable decision shortly after the start of the process in early March, which is planned until 2021 and is expected to take place under strict security conditions.
According to the media reports, it does not appear to be known who will become Westerbeke's successor. The prosecutor replaces Frank Paauw, who became Amsterdam's chief of police in the spring. So there was a gap to fill, especially since Westerbeke had started his career as a police officer and then as a public prosecutor in Rotterdam. But taking him out of the job at the beginning of the politically high mammoth process suggests at least a change in attitudes. Was one not satisfied with Westerbeke's investigation, was he too fixated on Russia, but what the Dutch government was and is, or is it too lax?
Most recently, despite intervention by the Dutch government, Vladimir Zemak (Tsemakh), who was described as an important witness and ultimately a suspect, was lost due to the prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia. He might have been the only witness / suspect who can be interviewed in court or through a video link. The four other suspects will not appear in court. Zemak, who is accused of participating in a terrorist organization (the "Donetsk People's Republic") and hiding the Buk system, which is on very shaky legs, had been kidnapped to Kiev by the Ukrainian secret service and was supposed to be there against offers, as he claims to testify against Russian suspects.
The new Ukrainian government considered the prisoner exchange more important than the MH17 witness. Now he is back in Donetsk and should not be extradited by Ukraine as a citizen (Dutch parliament calls for an investigation against Ukraine). The Dutch public prosecutor has announced that she sees Zemak as a suspect but does not yet know if she will file suit against him. This leaves the game open, but looks very tactical. Didn't Westerbeke want to play in it? Zemak himself has brought an action against the Netherlands before the ECJ.
There was also a surprising turnaround in Ukraine, if the information is correct, which Larisa Sargan, the former spokeswoman for the Attorney General Yuri Lutsenko, who was deposed by the new President Zelensky, recently shared on her Facebook. After that, the Ukrainian prosecutor, the head of the Ukrainian MH17 investigation team, was released. Apparently Westerbeke immediately went to Kiev and wanted to meet with the Attorney General Ruslan Rjaboshapka, who has been in office since August. But Sargan is said to have had no time for him, only his deputy, a colleague from the Netherlands.
She suspects that the Ukrainian secret service SBU wants to merge the investigation and that Russia could play a role in this. But it does not seem to be well-liked by the new government, so it is not necessary to believe its claims.
Volodymyr Tsemakh, the suspect in the case of MH17 downing, filed the complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against Ukraine and the Netherlands
According to the lawyer of the suspect, the complaint concerns the conditions of detention and confinement in Kyiv. Besides, Tsemakh stated about the use of psychotropic drugs against him.
“I filed the complaint to the ECHR in the interests of Tsemakh. I do not possess any detailed information; we wait for the further course of events,” lawyer of Tsemakh, Anatoly Kucheren said.
Eliot Higgins, the founder of the international group of the journalists and investigators Bellingcat, said: "It, sooner, reflects the perverse nature of the whole situation. First of all, with the release of Tsemakh by Ukrainian court within the prisoners’ exchange between Ukraine and Russia, despite the fact, that he is Ukrainian; then his escape to Russia and then the refusal of Russia to cooperate with the Netherlands on his detention and now this case".
Thirty-three Australians were tragically killed in two air disasters which shrouded 2014 and the years which have followed in sadness, anger and frustration.
Both incidents, which left a total of 537 passengers dead, forever seared the flight code of Malaysia Airlines into the consciousness of Australians.
What happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, or MH370, remains perhaps the greatest mystery of aviation and the subject of intense speculation.
Of the 227 passengers, six were Australians. On the morning of March 8, they boarded the Boeing 777-200ER aircraft in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and expected to step off in Beijing, China. The plane never arrived, and the search for the missing jet became the most costly in aviation history. The most likely scenario involved someone in the cockpit of Flight 370, probably Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, re-programming the aircraft's autopilot to travel south across the Indian Ocean.
The downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17, just four months later, appeared far more clear cut. All 283 passengers and 15 crew were killed, including 27 Australians.
A total of 33 Australians were needlessly killed in two air disasters in quick succession.
In the MH17 disaster, the lives of Perth parents Anthony Maslin and Marite "Rin" Norris were ripped apart in the most devastating way.
They lost their three children – Mo, 12, Evie, 10 and Otis, 8 – and Ms Norris' father, Anthony, when the jet was shot down. Their three children had been returning home to Perth for school, while they had stayed behind in Amsterdam.
Why it matters?
A nation of great travellers, Australians want to feel safe as we journey abroad. But there were also broader implications in both stories.
MH17 threw the spotlight on Moscow's intervention in the Ukraine and its likely hand in the disaster, despite denials.
What happened in the cockpit of MH370 continues to intrigue. A picture began to emerge of Captain Zaharie's mental health. Had Malaysia Airlines done enough not only to support a troubled pilot, but also spot the warning signs of an employee struggling with mental illness?
Malaysia Airlines came under intense pressure over its investigation. The carrier and Malaysian government were accused by families of MH370 victims of obscuring the truth. When disasters strike, people need and expect clarity from leaders and those in power.
What has changed?
Family members of victims are pushing for international law changes which will oblige countries embroiled in civil wars to close their airspace.
In the modern age, it was unthinkable a plane like MH370 could simply disappear. In 2016, a new aviation standard meant all aircraft over open ocean report their position every 15 minutes. The 30-day battery life of a plane's underwater locator beacons has also been increased to 90 days, beginning 2020.
Hit with two devastating disasters, Malaysia Airlines renationalized on 1 September 2015, in an attempt to avoid financial uncertainty. Meanwhile, families of the victims of MH370 and MH17 are still fighting for compensation in civil suits.
The Malaysian Airlines jet, which was carrying 239 passengers from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappeared from radar just seconds after entered into Vietnamese airspace.
The mystery of doomed Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 may never be solved as it lost contact with air traffic controllers during a crucial 18 minute window, according to reports.
Crucially, this was missed by ground crew in Malaysia who had a busy schedule at the time the jet vanished.
When the team in Kuala Lumpur finally noticed the Boeing 777's disappearance, they presumed it had been taken over by air traffic controllers in Ho Chi Minh, the Atlantic reports.
The Vietnamese team had noticed the jet on their monitors and then saw it vanish - but crucially - it is believed they failed to report the issue to their Malaysian counterparts.
A full 18 minutes passed before ground crew in Kuala Lumpur became aware one of their jets had vanished.
The Malaysian Aviation Safety Network (ASN) is certain that the aircraft was captured mid-flight.
Evidence is mounting that the crash, which has become of the greatest aviation mysteries of all time, was a murder-suicide.
New flight data suggests "some abnormal turns [were] made by the 777 [that] can only be done manually."
French investigators claim captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah was a troubled, lonely man who deliberately killed all passengers and crew on board the flight.
But it will take around "a year" to go through all of the information received from Boeing, sources said in July.
A source, who is 'close to the investigation' said: "Some abnormal turns made by the 777 can only be done manually. So someone was at the helm.
"But nothing is credited that anyone else could have entered the cockpit."
The informant told Le Parisien the new development amid France's judicial inquiry into the crash. It is the only country to conduct one as of yet.
Data analysis indicates the Boeing 777-200ER flew over the Indian Ocean until it ran out of fuel and violently slammed into the water with 239 people on board.
It is suspected the plane's passenger cabin was deliberately depressurised by Shah to kill everyone on board hours before the crash.
Before doing so, he could have put on an oxygen mask in the cockpit so he could continue to fly the aircraft for hours.
At around the same time the cabin was depressurised the electrical system was deliberately turned off, making the plane impossible to track by satellite.
An FBI inspection of Shah's Microsoft flight simulator at home showed he had tested a flight roughly matching the path of MH370, ending in the Indian Ocean after running out of fuel.
His voice was heard in the final radio communication less than two minutes before the plane began to divert from its flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014.
One of his lifelong friends told the Atlantic that he had reluctantly come to the conclusion that Shah deliberately crashed the plane, given the evidence amassed by independent investigators.
The friend, who wasn't named, said: “It’s hard to reconcile with the man I knew. But it’s the necessary conclusion.”
The friend said Shah likely tricked his inexperienced 27-year-old co-pilot, Fariq Hamid, who was on his final training flight, into leaving the cockpit and locked him out.
He said: “Zaharie was an examiner. All he had to say was ‘Go check something in the cabin', and the guy would have been gone.”
Shah's friend doesn't know why the pilot would do such a thing, but thought it might be down to the captain's emotional state.
He added: “Zaharie’s marriage was bad. In the past he slept with some of the flight attendants. And so what? We all do. You’re flying all over the world with these beautiful girls in the back. But his wife knew.”
People who spoke to the Atlantic described Shah, the father of adult children, as lonely and sad.
Five years go,when flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, Piet Ploeg lost members of his family. He hopes the investigation will bring responsible to justice.
On July 17, 2014, Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 took off from Amsterdam, bound for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As the Boeing 777 flew over eastern Ukraine, it crashed, killing all 298 people on board, including 80 children. Ploeg says "this day changed everything."
Piet lost his older brother Alex, his sister-in-law and his nephew when flight MH17 was shot down. His brother, a passionate biologist, had wanted to take his wife and son on a trip to the tropics. While their remains have been found, those of Ploeg's brother still has not.
Ploeg says nobody and no luggage has so far been retrieved. Even so, he is hopeful because "several hundred fragments which have not yet been identified will be analyzed using high-end technology — but the results will only be available by June or July next year."
His brother's daughters did not join their dad on the flight to Malaysia. Now, Ploeg looks after them. The younger of the two wants to become a biologist, just like her late father. Ploeg says the death of his brother Alex, his wife and their son "dealt a severe blow" to their parents, who died in 2019. After the death of his brother, Ploeg — like many other relatives and family members of those killed in the MH17 crash — needed psychological counseling. He also quit his job as a public administrator near Utrecht.
Today, Ploeg is a director of Vliegramp MH17, a foundation representing the vast majority of those who lost loved ones on that fateful day in July 2014. He works on a pro bono basis, helping prepare the March trial, assisting others who lost family members and friends in the tragedy.
Ploeg told DW he is often asked about his view of Russia and Ukraine. "They all think I hate Russians, but I don't," he explains.
He never used to follow developments in Eastern Europe, but that all changed after July 2014. Now, he is eager to get his head around the Ukrainian conflict and wants to know, above all, who carries responsibility for the attack on flight MH17.
"We want to learn about the structures behind the people who shot down this plane, and how they did it," he says.
Former OSCE SMM official Alexander Hug was able to speak to people from both sides of the demarcation line and reports that they all believe this war is not theirs. In the interview, he tells how time doesn't help as it widens the gap between the people either side of the line instead of bringing them closer. Different curriculums, different agendas make future reconciliation ever harder.
The Minsk agreement is something that was on the table for the last years but, of course, after the change of the new government here and after this agreement, the Steinmeier formula, it really got to the larger public. And there are political forces that say "it's not working, It should be dismantled." How would you assess that? From the point of view when it was approved, signed, at first in autumn 2014, then in winter 2015. What are the critical things in it? What would be your assessment of that agreement at this point of history?
The conflict in eastern Ukraine continues. The Special Monitoring Mission of the OSCE, the UN human rights monitoring missions and others continue to report about ceasefire violations, about civilian casualties, about heavy weapons in areas where they should not be. So at first look, one might easily conclude that indeed these agreements apparently don't work. Now it is very difficult to prove that they might have been working because it would need to prove the absence of violence. And it's very difficult to prove something that isn't there. So the absence of fighting -- might be a reduction of fighting -- but to make that case is very difficult. What is certainly safe to say is that these agreements have helped to contain the conflict to where it is now.
Now, technically, in any armed conflict, any armed violence need to be dealt with in similar ways. You need to stop the fighting, which translates into a non-use of weapon as it is written in the agreements, or a ceasefire by translation. You would need to make sure that the sides are not too close because that leads unavoidably to fighting. Translate it into the Minsk language, this is disengagement. You need to ensure that the weapons that reach our long distances are being pulled away at distance where they can't reach their aim any longer, and that is -- in Minsk language -- the withdrawal of heavy weapons. You need to ensure the safety and security of the civilians -- that means you need to demine. That has found its way into the Minsk agreements. So now, whether these items are agreed in Minsk or elsewhere, they will be the same to deal with any armed violence of similar nature. And now this of course, leaves away the political will that is needed to implement these measures. But looking at the technical side of things, these items will be necessary in order to stop the armed violence. Once again, it is difficult to prove that they had an effect because obviously, and the fact is that the violence continues.
If an average Ukrainian had fears about the agreement - how do you think [the Minsk agreements] could be explained [to them]? What do you think is missing from the explanation of Minsk? I don't ask you to argue and prove why it's the best agreement, we can agree that it's maybe definitely not perfect. But to those who are concerned, how would you explain it? What do you think is missing in the discussion?
First of all, to quote a very known person who once famously said that it's easy to start a war, but very difficult to make peace. So if pulling back to where the situation was before the conflict started, if that was easy, then we would not sit here together. So everyone has to acknowledge that the task ahead, especially after so many years, will not be an easy task. That is the first very important factor to acknowledge. It will be very difficult and it will take difficult decisions to make sure that these technical measures to end the fighting and to stop the bloodshed will be implemented. So that at first is very key and important to understand.
You mentioned the time, so many years. On whose side is the time?
Well, it's certainly not on the [side] of the people of Donbas and by extension, all of the people of Ukraine. The time passes and the war and the conflict continues.
I would argue that because this war doesn't divide people that have been divided by history, by language or ethnicity, the conflict itself is the dividing factor. And the longer this fighting lasts, the longer there is a contact line, the more risky it becomes that the Ukrainians on the non-government controlled side separate themselves from the Ukrainians on the government-controlled side and vice-versa. And the wider this gap gets, the more difficult it will become to bring it back together. The more urgently, therefore, it is to make sure that the gap doesn't become bigger. One important measure, of course, is to try to stop the fighting because that is a key problem in this equation. The more death, the more tragedy, the more destruction, the bigger that gap becomes. But also other measures in terms of how Ukraine's non-government controlled areas are being perceived in areas controlled by the government and how they themselves perceive how they're welcome is of high irrelevance because that will also give them the feeling as to how they will be welcomed across that gap. Therefore, once again, I do think time is not on the side of Ukrainians on both sides of the line, all over Ukraine.
Would you explain how exactly it plays to the life of the people, this fact that the time is not on their side? What's happening? You came to Ukraine in February 2014 and you left in 2018. Though you are no longer working -- for almost a year -- here in Ukraine, how did you see the development? What was the development in the non-government controlled territories, in the occupied territories, in Donetsk when you've been? How have these territories been changing? We haven't been there. Many of our viewers had no chance to go there.
This allows everyone to reflect how this all has started. One should not forget that in early 2014, in fact, up to summer 2014 and autumn, there was no contact line. It was very fluid. The fighting was in pockets. It was across areas. It was not really a line that was visible there. It wasn't there before. It had been created through the Minsk agreements, and it's therefore an artificial line. So that line in itself is a product of this conflict. And one should not to forget that there was nothing dividing these people in the sense of a contact line... There were no obstacles on the way to travel from what is now government controlled areas to what is now non-government controlled areas. So that is very important. Now that meant the lives of people that use these connections on the road, on the rail, on the plane to go to work, to see their relatives, to do business or simply travel for pleasure is now interrupted. It has been interrupted and now for many years, and this interruption of course has impact on their lives. One obvious impact is in security. When they still do cross -- and many, thousands every day still do -- this line, which is a very important figure to consider. [They] risk their lives when they do so. And that's, you know, people do still die when they do cross the line, be it out of exhaustion, of the long waiting hours exposed to the elements, or because of the security risks that they still face in these areas. But the line, that contact line and the continued fighting, also causes other security risk. It causes risks of damage to the property these people live in, it causes damage to infrastructure that these civilians depend on, on both sides of the contact line -- water, electricity, gas, just to mention a few. It has impacts further in on terms of their psychology, because of the continued fighting every day, nonstop. And as I've mentioned, these ceasefire violations continued unabated throughout these years, every day. And people are living close to it.
Their lives in non-government controlled areas and their lives in government controlled areas have taken different courses in these many years. They listen to different news. They had been educated with different curriculums. They pay with different currencies. Uh, they drive cars with different number plates. They follow different cultural events on either side of the contact line. And that now for many years, that creates different lives on these two sides of the contact line.
There are people, of course, that still remember how it was before the war started. There are many, however, who soon will not remember any longer how it was before the conflict started. A young child that started to grow up when the conflict started was five or six in 2014, is now 11-12 years old. That kid is about to graduate, be it on the government side or non-government side, but that kid will not remember or hardly remember how it was before the conflict started. But because there's formative years now, the last six years, there'll be the years that it will remember.
There is a lot of discussion that there should be good preparation, that there should be a really detailed plan, or something. But it's hard to imagine how long it should take to prepare to work with the conflict. Or do you think it's not about just preparation? How do you see the timeline of the solution, if it's there? You know, not everybody here also agrees that it should be resolved right now.
Well, certainly, it is necessary to look into all aspects of lives in areas beyond government control and government control and what impact this war had on them. I just mentioned a few before. This area should be mapped out, the problems and how to deal with them should be analyzed, but that should not take that serious amount of time.
What is also important is that if action is taken, and some action can be taken by Ukraine alone, without having to negotiate with Moscow directly... It also requires coordination with the international community that is there also with their respective mandates to help. But what I think is equally important, that one is not getting stuck in planning, analyzing, and coordinating. It is important that actually action is being put in place with people for whom all of these should be at the end of the day, realize that action had been taken to them, that they feel that those that can make a difference to them make that difference to them, so that they feel it, that they see it and that they see a difference between now and the years before.
There is quite a huge number of people crossing the contact line these days. Is it really unusual for another types of conflict? What makes it different? Because the Donbas is unusually large territory for any conflict we know globally of these kinds. Especially in the post-Soviet space.
There is a lot of people still living in these areas. There's a lot of people who have connections on both sides of the contact line, because there was no line before the war started, and we had this discussion just earlier on.
If there would be a group on one side of Ukrainians and a completely different group on the other side of the contact line, one likely would not see that frequent crossing of that contact line. But because there wasn't a line before, because there were no two groups before on one or the other side of what is now a contact line, the people don't see each other -- at least at this point to a vast majority -- otherwise the numbers would be smaller, not different. Yes, there are many of those that cross the line that do so because they claimed their pension and other benefits they get only on the government controlled side. That one should not leave out when looking at these numbers.
But still looking at other conflicts where the contact line or the front line, if you wish, normally is a division line between people normally drawn along ethnic lines, religious lines or other lines that would define one group different from another. And I think this is the positive figure of all of the negative figures that one hears about this conflict. The figure about the people that still cross this line and want to cross this line.
How do you, with your knowledge and experience, understand these so-called Steinmeier formula? Although it's a short text, many people still don't get it.
Well, and a lot of that's still to be defined. And this is probably the reason why a lot of people still have question marks. It is a sequencing that is laid out in this formula, as to what needs to come in place in terms of elections and at which point in time these different elements will come together, but under which circumstances and where in the bigger picture this formula will be plucked in, that is not stipulated in that formula. And that requires a further discussion.
So what do you think is exactly requiring the further discussion? I think that the major question people have - would there be any kind of people with guns, troops at the time of their elections? Though, of course, the OSCE would say "no, if there are people with weapons, you can't recognize these elections." But this is not really clear there.
Well, one thing has to be absolutely clear, I do think, is that if you have tanks, multiple launch rocket systems still standing in areas where they can be used, if you still register up to a thousand ceasefire violations a day at the contact line, as the special monitoring mission of the OSCE does per day, if you still register civilian casualties at the contact line as a cause of the ongoing fighting, as reported by the United Nations' human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine, it is clear that there is an active conflict ongoing.
They require full implementation and verify implementation, so that it can be made sure before any other process starts, that the weapons are gone away and stay away, that armed men are gone away and stay away, and that people who move about and go about can do so safely. That applies both to civilians, but also to any international organization that would need to operate in that area.
I think why people are also struggling -- they don't imagine how all of a sudden the weapon isn't there. You know, all of a sudden Russia or the separatists -- they just withdraw. What should it look like? How does this demilitarization take place? When you don't have a picture in your mind, it looks impossible.
The first important phase is there needs to be a silence at the contact line. The ceasefire has to be the starting point. And, as happened now at Stanytsia Luhanska or Zolote, if the sides go further away from one another, the risk that the fighting starts is significantly reduced.
That only, however, is also possible and sustainable if heavy weapons that -- often far behind these areas -- are being withdrawn and remain withdrawn. And the only way to make sure that sides actually disengage and that weapons remain withdrawn is that you have a third entity to verify, not just to monitor, but to verify that these weapons have been withdrawn and remain withdrawn. And for that verification process, you require cooperation with the sides and straightforward it should be resolved there is that the sides would need to hand down to the verifier a list of equipment that they have to withdraw, so that the verifier can go to an area and say: yes, this tank is now here and the next day's here, and this tank needs to be in an area where the verifier has unhindered access and that area needs to be permanently surveyed, for instance, with electronic means or physically by having the verifier being permanently located there. At that point, it can be verified that that tank is not any longer on the battlefield, or at least in the night and fires and goes back in the morning. But it remains there and stays there. And only then you can speak about the verification, and the verification of withdrawal of armaments is a basis, not the only, but it's a basis to build trust between the sides. Because if one side sees that weapons have been withdrawn and remain verifiably withdrawn, only then they will be assured that if they do the same, that they will not be betrayed or the other side will take advantage.
So that has to be a mirrorlike move on both sides of the contact line. Unilateral moves in this regard will be unhelpful, they will not work.
Is it realistic from also the past experience that this happens or these kinds of simultaneous actions are doable?
These technical measures have been tested in other conflicts as well. Wherever you have small arms and heavy arms engaged, you have positions to close. It's a natural thing, you have to take the fighting sides away from another that they can't reach each other with the small arms any longer.
And you need to take weapons that have a long reach when you fire them. You need to take them so far away that they, even if they fight, they can't reach the other side any longer. And you need to park them in an area where they're not being taken out any longer at night quietly put to the front, been fired and put back again in the morning.
And this happened elsewhere. That is not unique: what is being prescribed in the Minsk agreements. It happened in other armed conflicts around the world.
Does the OSCE SMM mission have the mandate and capacity to do that in case there is a political will? Maybe you can explain from your previous experience.
I do believe that a third entity -- the OSCE, the UN, anyone else is likely required to assist that process. So you have one from one side, one from the other side, and the third entity, normally an international officer that then makes sure that the verification on either side of the contact line is done by the [sides] together so that no one can argue against the other. That's in the best case, where you have these military commissions, joint military commissions elsewhere. And if anything, in the Minsk agreements, the mechanism through which non-adherence to the agreements can be followed up is missing, and this is a point where, I believe, Minsk has a deficit because there is no mechanism through which violations of the agreements can be pursued. There is no follow up. There is no consequence if there is a ceasefire violation, if a person dies, if a house is destroyed, if a bridge is blown up, if a field is mined, if a tank is where it shouldn't be. There are no consequences, not for the troops on the ground and not for the politicians endorsing or not reversing it. No political costs attached. And that has to change. So the accountability mechanism or the lack of an accountability mechanism within that Minsk framework is a significant deficit that needs to be overcome. And that is certainly something I would encourage everyone that is involved in this process to consider because that will help to end the impunity with which at this point in time, these agreements are still being violated.
Do you think the discussion on this accountability helps at the moment where anyway the sides are trying to build any agreement?
It's one puzzle piece that is required. It's not the silver bullet that will bring this to a conclusion. Once again, I'm not naive to assume that all these technical arrangements will sort out this conflict. No, political will in the end and likely only political will will. But meanwhile, those directly engaged and responsible should make sure that they build up the capacity, that they're ready to actually implement these technical measures once that political will is being materialized.
Can you explain why we are speaking about Zolote, Petrivske, Stanytsia [Luhanska]? Because there is such a long contact line. Is it just these villages and these territories in the agreement? And how much is it out of the whole contact line, of the whole territory where the troops are?
Well, first of all, the disengagement at Stanytsia Luhanska, to take this as an example, what's very important and proven, at least to this day, as being a rather successful process. It helped not only to reduce the fighting in that area. It helped to demine the area, it helped to rebuild the bridge, it helped to allow the people to cross that part of the contact line more easily. If there would have been no disengagement, all of that would not have happened. So clearly disengagement works if there is political will to it.
Zolote is also a potential crossing point. Also there it makes sense because if you want to have this as a crossing point, it will not work if it is militarized. Therefore moving people away. That, of course, would also be helpful. Then eventually, once that will be a crossing point that this will then be one to safely cross.
Now, all the three areas that now had been disengaged counting together are roughly at the length of three-four kilometers, so there is less than a percent of the entire contact line, if you take the number of 480 kilometers of all the line, depending on how you measure it. So there's much more to disengage, obviously, all along that line.
And that the fighting continues, it's not least a result of the fact that in many areas along the contact line, the sides are simply far too closely pitched at one another, very close across the road, a few meters only dividing them. And that's a recipe for more tension and the recipe for more fighting.
But it looks like with these three kilometers overall it is just a very, very tiny bit of the whole.
Yes, it is less than a percentage. 99% still needs to be done. But what it shows is that it can work. And what it also shows, what is probably even more important, that it will serve the people. It will help people to feel more safe, to have more freedom of movement, to be able to cross the contact line in a more relaxed, less tense area where they have to cross through armed men and minefields. That I think is very important. It shows that disengagement is one tool of many, again, it's not the only, but one tool that can help to calm down the situation, to ease the fighting, combine it with demining, with the verified withdrawal of heavy weapons. And before the measures foreseen in Minsk, you will be able then to stabilize and effectively install a ceasefire that is sustainable, not just holding a few hours or a few days, but sustainably, it is a resilient ceasefire because the sides are too far away to start fighting, the heavy weapons are packed away so that they can't be used any longer. The mines are gone, they're not able to hurt anyone any longer. And you have it all verified. At that point, you have a resilient, sustainable ceasefire, and that is what I think and I would suggest that implementing these measures should be aiming at.
You've come, I wonder how many times to the non-government controlled Donbas. I know the time has passed since you are not any longer officially employed by the OSCE SMM. But the mood of the people was changing, you know. I'm speaking about the civilians, of course.
Well, as you have just said for yourself, the OSCE for itself and I for myself, I believe there was never a poll taken to have a very broad and deep insight as to what people are thinking. That aside, anecdotally, indeed, people throughout the years told me quite often the same and it didn't matter on which side of the contact you would ask the question.
And the first thing people would say is they would like to have an end to the fighting. They say also, it is not their war. It's someone else's war, but not theirs. Again, an indication that it's not people against people. It is not a group-driven conflict. They also say they don't understand why this is continuing. Meaning in their view, from their own assessment, there has been no reason why this is continuing. And again, an indication that they had no disgruntlement against Ukraine on the other side and that on both sides of the contact line.
I have also met many civilians not affiliated with the armed formations in non-government controlled areas, that would clearly say that they feel as Ukrainians. When you ask them, of course, how this should be arranged in a post-conflict time, you will get all kinds of different answers in terms of how the political arrangement should be looking like. But in terms of their identification, as to where they feel they belonged to, I think there was quite a uniform response by the normal civilian that you will meet in the street. People even would communicate in Ukrainian in the streets of Donetsk when that was necessary. And that so in the presence of armed men. So I do feel that people are not necessarily reflecting as to what the news is reflecting the hearing in non-government controlled areas. Whether that is still now the case, a year after I left, I can't judge, but at the time it at least appeared to me that the conflict that the people see in front of their eyes every day for many years now, they clearly see and say and told that it is not theirs.
Currently, it was announced that there might be a meeting between president Putin and president Zelenskyy. That will be the first since many years. And the first of a new Ukrainian leader, already in December. Many says that a Ukrainian president should be very well prepared for that meeting. We really don't understand what should be exactly prepared. Do we expect a plan? I understand, it's not in your knowledge to know, but if you're a specialist, you think: What can they come out of this kind of meeting? We understand that they won't come and say: yeah, that's peace. No, you don't expect that. But what can come out of this discussion? Because there are some high, very high expectations. But also there are people who say that it is useless anyways to meet.
I would start with the expectations. One thing, it is important to make clear to everyone that this war, this conflict cannot be resolved with a single meeting. It will take more than that.
But at the same time without talking, without the dialogue of some sort, it will take even longer. So I would encourage any dialogue that would aim at a peaceful resolution of this war. But it is important to make clear to the public here and internationally, that one goes realistically into such meetings, so that one is clear from the very beginning that this is not a one-stop event, but one of many more to come. A lot has happened in the past five or six years, and that requires a lot more discussion for it all to be sorted out. Ukraine shares a 2,000-kilometer border with Russia.
For me, it is important that the two nations talk to one another. But it should be on equal footing, and it should aim to resolve that situation in Eastern Ukraine peacefully.
But for you, for instance, you would definitely follow, even if you don't work, you will follow -- what do you think this kind of a minimum, a humble minimum of their realistic progress?
I think, a genuine discussion between these two presidents. It does not need to be public, but a discussion that is not driven by accusations from either or the other side, but the discussion on substance, I think is required. And the many more are required so that the facts on the ground can be discussed and not allegations being traded in this meeting.
I think it should be a fact-based discussion aimed at resolving the conflict, the war peacefully.
But you know what anybody would say -- that in this conflict, there is a clear -- for many Ukrainians -- aggressor, the conflict is taking place on the Ukrainian soil. And for many, many Ukrainians it's clear that it's not Ukrainian government who started the war. So they also want kind of to hear that argument, that the president has this argument. Or you think at this stage of the conflict, it's obvious that there is no way that the president won't really discuss it?
It is obvious and has never been different. And it's documented by a signature of Russia on the Minsk agreement: that Russia is part of this conflict. So there is no doubt about that. The signature itself makes it very clear. Whatever you call them, but it is part to that conflict, and it has a responsibility which it has taken on by signing these agreements. So I think that is clear.
What is also clear is that finger pointing across the border from both sides over the past five or six years has not brought this any further. It has brought it into a stalemate.
I've been looking at the stipulated arrangements that had been made in the course of the years too, which have been aimed, when you read these documents, at reducing and ending the fighting and making sure that the territorial sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine is reestablished. That should be the aim. And that has to be the aim of this discussion.
You've been working in different conflicts, globally. How do you see this one? A lot of Ukrainians would say, and a lot of people think that their conflict is unique. In some ways, it's probably unique because there is also the proxy war here. How do you see it overall? From your previous experience as well.
My own experiences of conflict and war and compared to the war here in Ukraine, is that the others have been largely, not only, but largely driven by ethnic, religious differences and division. They also had the political component of course, but here, the people on the ground had nothing to do with and still are not part of the conflict itself. They might be drawn into it, they are maybe suffering from it, but the ethnic conflict type, religious conflict type can not be found here. This again is the big difference. And it is also the opportunity to resolve this differently than other conflicts. So there is a group dynamic evolving. What is the same, however, in all of the conflicts I have seen, is the suffering of the civilian people. No matter whether it's a politically driven conflict like here, ethnically or religiously where civilians suffer most. Because unlike the people with arms and guns, civilians are not protected. They're not in the trenches. They're not in armed vehicles. They're in their gardens, in their kitchens and are not protected, and that is the same elsewhere.
What makes you after you were, let's say, disappointed about the conflict, but as well also hopeful?
Well, hopeful first. I'm hopeful because I can see that there is a lot of discussion and debate about this conflict in Ukraine. Some of these discussions are helpful, some are not, but eventually, only debate and discussion will resolve this conflict, only dialogue can resolve this conflict. The fact that people at the contact line continue to cross the line is also very positive, and I've mentioned that a couple of times now. This you don't see elsewhere. This should be their motivation for making sure that there is no division, and their motivation to stop the fighting. In the end, this all should be for the people that live there and for the people that live in the Donbas so they get back to their normal lives.
What will Donbas be without its people? That doesn't make any sense. Any action should aim at making sure that people that suffer from this conflict have an end and see an end to that suffering.
Disappointing of course, is that I know very well that with all good intentions of the civil society, of the people on the ground, the international community, the government in Kyiv, if there is no political will, and that mainly, not only, but mainly needs to materialize in Moscow, to some degree also here in Kyiv, this conflict will not be resolved and it has not been resolved. And it's the key to make sure that what has been written into Minsk and what is required to end, the bloodshed has been implemented. That political will has disregarded the people on the ground. If the politicians that make the decisions to continue the fighting and not to implement what they have agreed would think of what consequences it has for the people on the ground. they often claim they protect, then, I'm sure the situation would be different. So that is disappointing, of course, to see still not happening, but I'm convinced that it is still possible to end this. And I know the only way to do so is peacefully.
Hundreds of attendees took part in the commemorating evening at the National Monument MH17 at Park Vijfhuizen. An evening where the memory is in the center. Lights were lit, flowers were laid and people were quiet.
To be able to be with their loved ones in mind, to listen to poems, to the beautiful songs of Annet Bootsman and Sandra Been, listen to 10-year-old Lucy read the children's story 'The death of Grandpa Mouse'. It was cold, a light wind was blowing this dark November evening. "Can I go to you then". With this last song people got together, warmed themselves up and experienced that the evening, an initiative of the Friends of the National Monument MH17, works healing.
The van der Peijl family is well represented. Of the eleven children that this Five-house family has 'very special, we are all still there', ten have come to the Lichtjesavond with their other halfs.
About 400 tripods were made so that just as many lights could continue to burn on the monument. That sight alone gives goose bumps. An impressive sight such as the monument and the paths were illuminated that evening. Some people who did not have relatives on board laid flowers to the monument too.
Gerard Harke from Zwanenburg and his girlfriend Raili had done that for everyone they miss. Gerard had done a walk on the monument earlier during the day. But that will soon change. The memorial must also be impressive during the day.
Swedish journalist in his article is talking about the future of his country and about ways to lead Sweden to democracy.
He says that Swedish Democrats are thought to play an impotraint role in modern Swedish society. Moreover, this party has wide international relations that help to take into account different points of view in relation to many international issues.
For the past week's national days, for example, they had invited Thierry Baudet, leader of the Dutch party Forum for Democracy, and he gave a speech.
Among other things, he was speaking about the shooting down of the Malaysian passenger plane MH17 over eastern Ukraine in the summer of 2014.
It is worthy of note that while an international investigation is trying to persuade the world community that the plane was shot down by Russian or Russian-controlled forces, and has pointed out those responsible, Baudet says it might as well have been Ukraine's defense force that did it.
Urdupoint.com published an article with a quotation of the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov that "the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) receives many materials on the 2014 Malaysian Airlines MH17 crash over eastern Ukraine from Kiev, while it is to blame for the unclosed air space".
He also claimed that Russia has never been invited to become a member of investigating bodies despite the readiness of Moscow to contribute to the investigation of this tragedy.
Russia does not have the possibility to assess the credibility and quality of materials that JIT receives from Ukraine.
Ukraine is often blamed for not closing the air space over the combat zone in 2014.
The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) published audio recordings of allegedly intercepted phone conversations of rebels of the Donetsk People's Republic with the Russian officials in July, 2014.
The first thing that sounds strange is the rebels used "the safe phones provided by the Russian security service". In fact, safe phones are designed to exclude the possibility of their listening as it is. In which way then did the Ukrainian security services succeed to intercept talks? This contradiction makes the whole case seem doubtful.
The time of the publication of these files also seems very suspicious. Why has the JIT decided to start searching for witnesses at this moment? The court hearings on the MH17 case are to begin in March 2020, and the Dutch investigators have no convincing evidence of Russian involvement. This may be the reason.
At the same time, Ukraine benefits from distracting the public attention from the case of Vladimir Tsemakh, a former chief of air defense sector in Donetsk People's Republic, who accused the Ukrainian intelligence agencies of kidnapping and torturing him.
Besides, the number of experts who doubt the conclusions of the JIT grows. The Dutch researcher Max van der Werff criticized the official investigation in his documentary The Call for Justice.
He also disproved the originality of phone conversations records of rebels accused of crash. The special software allowed the expert to find signs of falsification of the audio files, which were made of fragments of different voice messages.
The only source of this information is the State Security Service of Ukraine which soiled its reputation with the known falsifications and provocations like the imitation of journalist Babchenko murder.
Ukraine is an interested party in this case and it is impossible to call her the impartial participant of the investigative process. Anyway official Kiev should bear responsibility for the leaving the airspace over a combat zone open and not securing the flight.
Last week, the witness in the MH17 crash case, re-qualified by the Dutch side as a suspect, Vladimir Tsemakh told “Rossiya Segodnya” what had happened to him in the Ukrainian pre-trial detention center.
During a conversation with a journalist, he explained that representatives of foreign competent authorities were present at his interrogations in addition to the staff of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine. Vladimir Tsemakh noted that before a conversation with representatives of Australia and the Netherlands, one of the employees of the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office threatened him with a life sentence, saying that Kiev would not include his name in the list of prisoners to be exchanged.
In their turn, foreign investigators, in exchange for evidence against Russia, offered him to take part in a witness protection program, promised citizenship and a house in the Netherlands, but Tsemakh refused.
This interview makes it clear what is the way the group of foreign investigators works with key witnesses in the case.
It can be assumed that Ukrainian dispatcher of the Dnepropetrovsk airport Anna Petrenko, who followed up the МН17 flight on the day of the tragedy, and photographer Pavel Aleinikov, who captured the condensation trail from a missile that supposedly shot down the airplane, they got into a similar program.
The dispatcher disappeared the day after the tragedy. As is known from the web she had gone on vacation in the UAE, but no one had heard of her again. It’s also quite strange that there is no information available about her interrogations by representatives of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine or their colleagues from the Netherlands and Australia. As for the photographer, Pavel Aleinikov disappeared after a while, having managed to give a series of interviews to reporters. It’s remarkable that there is also no information about his conversation with the investigation team. It seems this is the way the witness protection system works.
It is also noteworthy that the Bellingcat, known for its scrupulous investigations, does not even try to search for Anna Petrenko and Pavel Aleinikov. And their information could greatly help the investigation and bring it closer to its logical conclusion.
It is possible they agreed to the same terms that the investigators offered to Tsemakh and will suddenly appear at the hearings in March 2020 and will witness against Russia in exchange for a house and citizenship of the Netherlands.
Ukrainian journalist Iryna Drabok claims in her article that "Call for Justice" is "another Russian propaganda film about the MH17 tragedy".
But lets take a closer look.
The movie is going to be shown in the Hague on the evening of October 23.
Drabok says that one of the authors of the film Russian journalist Yana Yerlashova (along with Dutch blogger Max van der Werff) was working for RT (Russia Today) so she can not be called an independent investigative journalists. What can we say about any journalist from Ukraine in this situation? Oles Buzina tried to be independent and we all know what has happened to him.
Iryna Drabok also points that Yerlashova simply speaks on the phone with one of the rebels Sergey Dubinsky, nicknamed "Khmuriy" saying that Russian journalists have lots of contacts with DPR fighters. But everything is very simple - Yerlashova is not truing to put him into jail, so he does not mind talking to her.
In general, Ukrainian journalist Drabok wants to prove that there is no need in conducting this or such presentations.
But I think she is totally wrong cause this could be a one more important step on our long way that would bring us closer to the answer for the main question:"What has happened to MH17?"
The Parliament of the Netherlands wants to find out the role of Kyiv in the downing of MH17 flight on July 2014
Lawmakers of the Dutch Parliament want the Government to find reasons why Ukraine did not close the air space above the combat zone. Some politicians including a member of the Christian Democratic Party Chris van Dam stated that Kyiv should give explanations why the airspace over the territory where several airplanes have been previously brought down was not closed.
A decision to conduct an investigation was made in spite of the opinion of the Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok that there are not enough grounds for starting a case. It is possible that he does not want to turn to Russia. Earlier there were attempts to lay the blame upon Moscow based on unverified information.
A decision to conduct an investigation was made in spite of the opinion of the Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok that there are not enough grounds for starting a case. It is possible that he does not want to turn to Russia. Earlier there were attempts to lay the blame upon Moscow based on unverified information.
Over four years international community ignored the report of the Dutch Safety Board published in October 2015 that Ukrainian powers did not do enough to protect civil aviation from weapon systems that were used in this conflict.
It was found out during the investigation that authorities closed the airspace from July 14 to the FL320 level (9750 meters). The route of MH17 passed at the FL330 level (10050 meters). When it comes to the aviation issues, 300 meters do not guarantee that the plane can pass through the area with no consequences.
This means that Kyiv did not pay enough attention to security problems. The reason could have been a wish of concerned parties not to lose income (over 200 million dollars annually) for the transit of foreign planes.
An attempt to find additional reasons of a plane crash is a great step in this search of the guilty. This is extremely important for the relatives. Many of them place responsibility on Kyiv. Mother of Bryce Fredriksz, Silene, said that she blames Ukraine for not closing the airspace. Moreover, in 2014 relatives from Germany initiated an appropriate claim to the ECHR. But the hearings last up to now, the content of the suit is classified, proceedings are hidden from prosecutors, their lawyers and the publicity.
The investigation of the disaster can last for many years. Whoever has pushed the button, part of the blame still rests on Ukraine. In accordance with international standards the authorities had to provide the safety of flights but they did not. That has been proved be the Dutch Safety Board.
To my mind there are enough reasons to start an investigation to to find out the role of Kyiv in the downing of MH17. Ukraine has to bear responsibility for not closing the airspace above the fighting zone.
The Joint Investigation Team seems to ignore obvious things and that shows the partiality of the investigation.
Federal investigators have begun looking into what caused a World War II-era B-17 bomber plane carrying 13 people to crash at a Connecticut airport Wednesday, leaving seven dead.
State Police released the names of the seven victims on Thursday. They
included pilot Ernest McCauley, 75, and co-pilot Michael Foster, 71.
Passengers David Broderick, 56; Gary Mazzone, 66; James Roberts,
48; Robert Riddell, 59; and Robert Rubner, 64, also died as a result of
National Transportation Safety Board member Jennifer Homendy told reporters that McCauley had flown with the Collings Foundation, which owned the plane, for over 20 years and had acquired 7,300 hours in the B-17.
Boeing B-17 G plane built in 1944 last underwent a major inspection in
January 2019, according to Homendy. It should have undergone
subsequent airworthiness inspections at 25, 50 and 75 hours but the NTSB
has not yet determined the quality of those.
The plane was
purchased by the Collings Foundation, a nonprofit education
foundation, in 1986. It was involved in one accident in 1987 when it
overran a runway, which resulted in an injury, as well as an incident
when the landing gear failed to deploy.
WWII-era bombers have been involved in 21 accidents since 1982, resulting in 23 fatalities. Three of the accidents were on B-17 G planes.
plane took off from Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks at
around 9:45 a.m. and reported engine issues to air traffic control five
minutes later. At 9:53 a.m., the plane attempted to land but missed the
runway, collided with a de-icing facility.
Homendy said investigators will also look into witness reports that work was being done on one or two of the engines prior to takeoff. The plane was run by four piston engines.
One of the victims, Gary Mazzone, was a retired police captain in Vernon, Conn. The 60-year-old had worked as a police officer for 22 years, part of a 42-year law enforcement career, and was a member of the Special Olympics Connecticut Hall of Fame, according to WVIT-TV. He had three children and two step-children and had retired in January as a prosecutor’s office inspector.
Mazzone's son Daniel told the Associated Press his father was a history and military buff.
“I think he just wanted to see what it was like to be in the back of a B-17,” Daniel Mazzone said. “He loved World War II. He loved people who served this country in any capacity.”
Debra Riddell posted a letter to Facebook mourning the death of her husband Robert: "He was my soul mate, I will miss him beyond [what] words can ever express."
the AP she was at the airport Wednesday to video her husband on his
“bucket list” trip aboard the bomber. She said Thursday her husband
texted her shortly into the trip saying they were coming back due to
“turbulence.” She then recalled hearing a “really, really loud sound”
followed by a huge fireball and billowing black smoke.
Seven people were killed when a World War II-era plane crashed and caught fire Wednesday morning as it was attempting to land at Bradley International Airport near Hartford, Conn., according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Thirteen people were onboard the
plane, Connecticut Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services
and Public Protection James Rovella said at a news conference. Some of
the survivors were in critical condition.
The vintage B-17, which was carrying 10 passengers and three crew members, reported trouble just minutes after it took off, according to Connecticut Airport Authority Executive Director Kevin Dillon.
plane lifted off at 9:45 a.m. ET, and "five minutes into the flight,
the aircraft indicated to the tower that they were experiencing some
type of problem with the aircraft," Dillon said. Observers on the ground
noticed that it was not gaining altitude. It circled and tried to land.
"Unfortunately, upon touchdown, the aircraft obviously lost
control, struck what's known as our de-icing facility here," he said. It
also hit a maintenance facility.
Aerial images from the scene show a destroyed and charred
plane, and several buildings around it appear to have sustained damage.
The airport in the town of Windsor Locks was closed for several hours after the crash. The FAA said it had "put in a ground stop for flights that are destined for the airport."The plane belongs to the Collings Foundation, a nonprofit that provides educational programs about aviation history. The foundation has a touring exhibition of antique aircraft called the "Wings of Freedom Tour" featuring five WWII planes.
The National Transportation Safety Board has launched a "go team" to investigate.
The nearby town of Windsor has issued a health warning that the firefighting foam used to combat the crash fire may have discharged into the Farmington River. "The public is advised not to come into contact with foam they may encounter on the Farmington River or the river banks, as well as to not take fish from the river," the warning reads.
Australian Ambassador Graeme Meehan said, the next Australian-Russian-Dutch meeting on the 2014 crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine may take place before the end of 2019, .
"There is still no precise date, but it is possible that the meeting will take place before the end of the year," the diplomat said.
The Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 crashed on July 17, 2014 in eastern Ukraine while en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam. All 298 people aboard, mostly Dutch citizens, Malaysians and Australians, were killed. Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics in Ukraine's easternmost Donbas region, where the plane crashed, have exchanged blame for the incident.
The investigation into the MH17 crash is being conducted by Dutch prosecutors and the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team.
Boeing announced orders and agreements with Asia-Pacific airlines to support customers in the rapidly growing region. The digital and supply chain deals focus on airline crew situational awareness and Boeing says will also help save on costs. “We continue to establish and grow relationships in this key region of the world, working closely with our Asia-Pacific customers to understand their unique operating requirements,” said Stan Deal, president and CEO, Boeing Global Services. “We’re evolving our digital services and parts support to meet our customers’ needs while increasing the efficiency of their operations.”
According to Boeing’s 2019 Services Market Outlook, the Asia-Pacific commercial aviation services market is projected to grow by 5 percent annually over the next 20 years into a US$3.4 billion aviation services market by 2038.
According to Tiny Kox, the chairperson of the PACE Group of the Unified European Left, Russia has repeatedly stressed its readiness to assist the probe in determining the reasons for the tragic 2014 crash and hold the perpetrators accountable. However, Moscow demands that the data it provides must be taken into account, unlike in 2016 when the Russian authorities responded promptly to the investigators' requests for help and shared secret data on the Buk missiles, which allegedly were used to down the plane, but the information was ignored.
The rapporteur initiative was proposed by the leaders of all PACE's political groups during the assembly's summer session.
The Malaysian Airlines Boeing airplane crashed on July 17, 2014, in eastern Ukraine while en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam.
All 298 people aboard were killed. Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics in Ukraine's easternmost Donbas region, where the plane was shot down, have exchanged blame for the incident. The investigation into the MH17 crash is being conducted by Dutch prosecutors and the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT).
Joseph Resch, a German detective, who carried out his own investigation into the 2014 Malaysian Airlines MH17 crash over east Ukraine, ordered by a private client, said that he was ready to discuss sharing his findings on the causes of the tragedy with the Malaysian authorities.
"We believe that the Malaysian authorities should contact us via the embassy or a lawyer, so that they could inform the Malaysian government about the ways this could be organised, if the conditions are satisfied," Resch said.
In July, Resch, who has been independently investigating the MH17
disaster since 2014 at the behest of an unnamed client, attempted to
submit potentially groundbreaking new material on the case to the
Dutch-led Joint Investigative Team (JIT), but was rejected after he
asked to make the information public.
In mid-2015, an unnamed informant turned to the detective, allegedly providing him with important insider information.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, was shot down on 17 July 2014 as it was flying over eastern Ukraine, where a military conflict between the Ukrainian Army and the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) was taking place at the time. Kiev delegated the investigation into the incident to the Netherlands, but before the probe even started, Western governments accused Russia of supplying the DPR with the weaponry that had allegedly had downed the plane. Moscow denied being involved in the conflict in general, let alone supplying the DPR with arms.
Some Western observers are criticizing a Ukrainian court's decision on Thursday to release Volodymyr Tsemakh, a "person of interest" in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) more than five years ago.
The decision, handed down by the Kyiv Court of Appeal, comes amid talks between Moscow and Kyiv on a prisoner swap that unconfirmed reports have said includes Tsemakh, a Ukrainian citizen who reportedly oversaw an anti-aircraft unit among rebels stationed near the commercial airliner's crash site in eastern Ukraine.
Shortly after reports of Tsemakh's release circulated, Russian
President Vladimir Putin told reporters gathered at the Eastern Economic
Forum in Vladivostok that he believes the swap is imminent and will be
"rather large-scale, and a good step forward toward normalization [of
relations with Ukraine]."
In the swap, which is largely viewed as a pre-condition to quadrilateral "Normandy format" peace talks tentatively scheduled for later this month, Kyiv is seeking the return of 24 sailors detained by Russia last year off Crimea, as well as filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and others, whom rights groups and the government in Kyiv say are "political prisoners" in Russia.
Last week, a Ukrainian court released Vyshinsky on his own
recognizance as he awaits trial on charges of high treason that were
brought against him in 2018.
Tsemakh's release also comes a day after a group of members of the European Parliament wrote a letter urging Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy not to include Tsemakh in any deal, calling him a "key suspect" in the missile launch.
Officials from an international Dutch-led investigation have voiced concerns that transferring Tsemakh to Russian soil will make it impossible to question him about the case.
Peace vs. prosecution
International observers such as Bloomberg's Leonid Bershidsky say Tsemakh's release is an indication that the newly-elected Ukrainian president "is willing to use his considerable political capital ... to prioritize humanitarian matters."
"Such an approach would make it likely that (Zelenskiy) would also favor a broad amnesty for the separatists once the 'people's republics' rejoin Ukraine," he wrote, adding that Tsemakh's trade shows that Zelenskiy's "desire to end the war trumps all other considerations."
Security analyst Christo Grozev, with research group Bellingcat, first reported that Tsemakh might be released as part of the prisoner exchange. Grozev says Kremlin demands for Tsemakh's release are part of a broader effort to delegitimize the MH17 investigation.
"It's not going to change the amount of evidence the investigation
team has gathered — the proof will still be there — but there will be
significant damage done to the perceived legitimacy of the court
procedures, or at least that's what the Kremlin will try to argue,"
Grozev told VOA.
Without an indicted suspect or witness to take the stand in a
Netherlands courtroom, Grozev said, Russia won't need to send a legal
team, giving the court procedures the appearance of a one-sided case.
Three Russians and a Ukrainian were indicted over the downing of
flight MH17, and court proceedings in the Netherlands are scheduled for
March. But the four suspects most likely will be tried in absentia.
Although Tsemakh was not one of the four indicted, Grozev calls him the only person who had been in Ukrainian custody and who could firmly link high-ranking Russian military personnel to the 2014 disappearance.
"The Dutch investigators will be looking for the chain of command, people who gave the instructions, and not the soldiers."
Threats and denials
Russia has always denied responsibility for shooting down the commercial passenger flight and claimed last year that the Buk missile came from Ukrainian army arsenals.
Conflict in Ukraine has killed an estimated 13,000 people since 2014. Although a cease-fire deal ended major conflict there in 2015, small-scale clashes still occur regularly.
The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) apprehended Tsemakh on June 27 in the Donetsk regional city of Snizhne.
According to the Dutch-led investigation, the Buk missile was fired six kilometers south of Snizhne.
Malaysia wants the world to stop bringing unfounded accusations against Russia about the crash of Flight MH17 passenger aircraft over the Donbass. Will we ever know the truth about the investigation? Is the West going to reveal objective data about the tragedy?
Pravda.Ru editor-in-chief Inna Novikova asked these and other questions to Russian political scientist, teacher, expert of the Higher School of Economics Andrei Suzdaltsev.
"It appears that the West is not going to give up on the topic of prompt nuclear stroke. Do you think that they still want to destroy Russia?"
"They cherishing this dream
in the West since the times of the USSR. Now they suffer from another
exacerbation of this disease. There are many of those in the world who
dream of possessing nuclear arms. This is a big dream for President of
Belaurs Alexander Lukashenko, let alone Ukraine. Yet, they can only
dream about it. Even if they can technically build nuclear arms, they
will not be allowed to. The crisis between Russia and Ukraine would thus
be even more horrifying than the crisis between Pakistan and India."
"They haven't been bringing the topic of the crash of the Malaysian Boeing much lately. The Joint Investigation Team is not investigating anything - they try to fabricate facts by choosing the ones that they need. The work of the JIT is purely political. However, we can see Malaysia acting more decisive now. The Malaysian administration has repeatedly expressed its protests about the work of the JIT. Malaysia demands the West should stop presenting evidence-free accusations against Russia. Do you think they are ever going to find and announce the real perpetrators?"
"This is out of the question. They will never admit."
"Never? Not even in 50 years?"
"They will never announce. Russia has made many mistakes here too. We were looking guilty, we started looking for excuses."
"No, we held the press conference and provided objective data."
had a few versions too. Russia should have conducted its own detailed
investigation to dot all i's clearly. There was a military aircraft of
the Ukrainian Air Force there. Most likely, the missile was launched
from the Buk missile system. There are two things that confuse me about
this case. First off, the West promised us to conduct a full and open
investigation into the tragedy. The Americans promised to show images
made by the satellite that was flying above the area where the tragedy
took place. Yet, the investigation is still secret, and the Americans
have never shown anything either.
"Secondly, I do not understand
why there was no fly zone established over the Donbass. There were
hostilities there, planes had been shot down there too. One may accept
the fact that the plane was flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters.
Missiles do not reach such altitudes, especially the missiles that could
be found in the conflict zone. However, shortly before the tragedy,
flight control officers ordered the Malaysian aircraft to descend?! What
was that? The Buk missile system can operate within the range of 60
kilometres around and at an altitude of up to six kilometers. The
control room is located in Dnepropetrovsk.
"So they had to take the airliner down to 6,000 meters to make it
fly right above the little circle of 60 kilometers. This is what the
passenger aircraft did as pilots were following instructions from
Ukrainian flight control officers."
"A flight controller ordered the plane to drift off the course. This officer then went on vacation and vanished."
"They wanted the airplane to be in the line of the Buk missile. The officer was indeed gone, there is no information about him, but the Dutch do not say a word about it. Even if there was a Buk system in the area, they were supposed to make the passenger aircraft approach the destructive zone. It was Ukrainian flight control officers, who did that, but there is no information about it. Malaysian experts confirmed that the recordings of the dialogues of insurgents were fake. They forgot about another version that was voiced in 2014. The version is about Putin's aircraft that was flying to Moscow above Europe. They were looking for Putin's plane, but they did not know exactly where its route was. If they had found it, they would have shot the plane down."
That is what they write in Russia. Sometimes it really looks like the West presents evidence-free accusations. But what is YOUR opinion about that?
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia was offered to lead investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 that was shot down on July 17 five years ago.
Former Department of Civil Aviation director-general Datuk Seri Azharuddin Abd Rahman said the country turned down the offer as it was too occupied with investigation into the disappearance of flight MH370.
“Under the protocol of ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) Annex 13, the country where the incident had occurred would lead the investigation into the case.
“Because Ukraine is unable to go into the rebel-controlled area, the countries responsible (affected by the downing of MH17) which include Malaysia as the state operating the aircraft agreed for the investigation to be lead by the Dutch authorities.
“Malaysia was offered (to lead the investigation). However, we told them that we were too occupied with MH370, which happened four months before that. We were far away from the crash site,” he said.
Azharuddin said this at the MH17: The Quest For Justice conference here today.
day-long conference was jointly organised by the International Movement
for a Just World (JUST), the Perdana Global Peace Foundation (PGPF) and
the Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG) in collaboration with
the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).
Azharuddin also shared with the audience that Malaysia, which only became member of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing MH17 after six months into the tragedy, downloaded and listened to the voice recordings from the black boxes of the aircraft before it was officially handed over to the Dutch authorities.
“The black boxes, the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder were taken by us from the rebels through Colonel Mohd Sakri Hussin.”
Mohd Sakri was the chief negotiator of the ‘Dozen Persons’, a Malaysian team tasked with entering Ukraine covertly to secure not just the bodies of the victims but also the downed aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder, mere days after the tragedy took place.
“We have downloaded and listened (from the recordings
from the black boxes) as we wanted to know what exactly happened the
last seconds of the incident.
“The preliminary report was made known and I had to inform the (Malaysian) government (of the findings).”
To a question from a speaker at the forum on the location of the black boxes now, Azharuddin said all the evidence was kept by the Dutch authorities.
“This is because the prosecution of this case would be done in at the Court in the Netherlands.
“That is why it (all the evidence including the black boxes) is with the authorities there.
is the same with the Lockerbie incident involving Pan Am Flight. The
international requirement is that the evidence is kept at the place
where the prosecution is being conducted,” he said.
Pan Am Flight 103 exploded when it was flying over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec 21, 1988.
six years later, flight MH17, which was flying 298 passengers and crew
including 43 Malaysians was shot down near Hrabove, a village in the
eastern part of Ukraine.
The aircraft had departed Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and was on its way to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down.
Flight MH370 vanished from radar while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board.
On July 3, 1988 in the Persian Gulf, the U.S. Navy cruiser Vincennes shoots down an Iranian passenger jet that it mistakes for a hostile Iranian fighter aircraft. Two missiles were fired from the American warship–the aircraft was hit, and all 290 people aboard were killed. The attack came near the end of the Iran-Iraq War, when U.S. vessels were in the gulf defending Kuwaiti oil tankers. Minutes before Iran Air Flight 655 was shot down, the Vincennes had engaged Iranian gunboats that shot at its helicopter.
Iran called the downing of the aircraft a “barbaric massacre,” but U.S. officials defended the action, claiming that the aircraft was outside the commercial jet flight corridor, flying at only 7,800 feet, and was on a descent toward the Vincennes. However, one month later, U.S. authorities acknowledged that the airbus was in the commercial flight corridor, flying at 12,000 feet, and not descending. The U.S. Navy report blamed crew error caused by psychological stress on men who were in combat for the first time. In 1996, the U.S. agreed to pay $62 million in damages to the families of the Iranians killed in the attack.
Malaysia wants evidence to show that Russia is responsible for the flight MH17 tragedy in 2014, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Dr Mahathir said while the Malaysian government agreed that the plane was brought down by a Russian missile, it cannot be certain that the missile was launched by Russia. “They are accusing Russia but where is the evidence? We know the missile that brought down the plane is a Russian type missile, but it could also be made in Ukraine.
"You need strong evidence to show it was fired by the Russians. It could be by the rebels in Ukraine, it could be Ukrainian government because they too have the same missile,” said Prime Minister. “We don’t know why we are excluded from the examination but from the very beginning, we see too much politics in it and the idea was not to find out how this happened but seems to be concentrated on trying to pin it to the Russians. This is not a neutral kind of examination,” said Dr Mahathir.
I've a question. Why does Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team not ask such simple question? I know. There are too much politics in this tragedy. I mean, there is too much politics then so little the true.
With plane crashes making headlines over the weekend, one in Florida
with no fatalities and another in Russia that killed dozens, travellers
might question whether flying has become less safe.
experts regard the recent incidents as a statistical blip, however,
pointing out that such accidents and fatalities are a fraction of what
they were as recently as the 1990s.
Advances in aircraft and airport design, better air traffic control, and improved pilot training are often cited as factors in reducing accidents.
"I don't think
we'll ever get to zero accidents, but aviation is still the safest it's
ever been," said Seth Young, director of the aviation program at Ohio
the US, no airline passengers were killed in accidents from 2009 until
April 2018, when a woman on a Southwest Airlines jet died after an
engine broke apart in flight.
Worldwide, there were more than 50
fatal airline accidents a year through the early and mid-1990s, claiming
well over 1,000 lives annually, according to figures compiled by the
Flight Safety Foundation. Fatalities dropped from 1,844 in 1996 to just
59 in 2017, then rose to 561 last year and 209 already this year.
Nearly half of the airline deaths in 2018 and 2019 occurred during the crashes of two Boeing 737 Max jets in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
Concern around automated flight controls
each case, investigators are examining the role of flight software that
pushed the nose of the plane down based on faulty sensor readings.
raises concern about safety around automated flight controls, said
William Waldock, an expert at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
are not being trained as much as pilots as they are system operators
and system managers," he said. "So when something happens and the
automation fails, they get flummoxed."
the two Max crashes, safety experts see little immediate connection
between other incidents such as the deadly weekend crash of a Russian
plane that caught fire after an emergency landing in Moscow and the case
of the charter airliner that ran off a Florida runway into a river; no
one died in that one.
Investigators probe crashes in search of clues to prevent more accidents from the same cause.
the case of the Aeroflot jet that caught fire, killing more than 40
people on board, attention is likely to turn to Russian media reports
that lightning disabled the plane's communications system and whether
pilots should have burned off fuel before the emergency landing.
strikes are not uncommon. In the US alone, there are about 25 million
every year, according to the National Weather Service. A Federal
Aviation Administration spokesman said airline planes get hit about once
a year on average.
are built so that the fuselage acts as an electricity-conducting
shield, keeping the voltage away from passengers and critical systems.
The jolt is often dissipated off wings or the tail. Critical electronics
have surge protection. Nitrogen is used to reduce the risk that
electrical arcing could spark a fire in a fuel tank.
like the Boeing 787, which uses carbon composite material instead of
aluminium, includes fine wiring in the wings to direct current off the
plane, said John Hansman, an aeronautics professor at MIT.
should be designed to take a lightning strike," Hansman said, "but if
you don't have a perfectly grounded airplane, if you don't have the
right surge suppressors, it's possible you can take out some of the
avionics or electronics."
Sunday's fiery crash in Moscow raised
questions about making an emergency landing shortly after takeoff, while
the plane is still fully loaded with fuel and likely over the maximum
very large airliners have the ability to dump fuel. Most jetliners
including the popular Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 do not. That leaves
only one option for lightening the fuel load on a plane like the
Russian-made Sukhoi SSJ100 - circling long enough to burn fuel.
Cox, a former airline pilot and now a safety consultant, said he would
only circle if he were concerned that something was wrong with the
plane's landing gear, or the runway was too short.
Video of the
landing showed the Aeroflot plane seem to touch down on its main landing
gear, then bounce up before coming down hard a second time. At that
point, flames can be seen coming from the jet.
also captured passengers toting their carry-on luggage as they fled the
burning jet. Passengers on US airlines are told to leave personal
belongs in an emergency because it can slow the evacuation when seconds
"We will never know if more lives could have been saved if the bags were left behind," said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants.
Foreign Minister Stef Blok reported on March 27 about a trilateral
meeting between Russia, the Netherlands and Australia on the
situation around the Boeing MH-17 crash in the Donbas. However, he
noted that he could not disclose the details of the negotiations,
since confidentiality in this situation is vital. However, the Dutch
politician said that the main aim for him was to find the truth and
of the topic of the MH-17 incident with only two countries out of
five that are part of the joint investigative team JIT with a high
level of confidentiality leads to certain thoughts. One of the main
questions are: why they negotiate with Russia outside the framework
of the JIT and what is the goal of Australia and the Netherlands?
The main initiators of the creation of the investigative group were Ukraine and the United States, which are biased against Russia. This is probably why Malaysia was initially not included in the investigation team because of its neutral position in relation to the Kremlin. Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Locke, in an interview with Channel News Asia, stated that there is no convincing evidence to accuse Russia based on JIT data. This statement was a response to promulgated preliminary findings, in which investigators place full blame for the crash of MH-17 on Moscow. Therefore, Washington and Kiev tried to ignore Kuala Lumpur, even though the crashed plane belonged to a Malaysian company. In addition, among the dead were 43 Malaysian citizens. Malaysia was able to join the investigation as a full member only a few months later. Kuala Lumpur for this even had to go to the refusal to cooperate with the Security Council of the Netherlands, leading a technical investigation. As a result, on November 28, 2014, the prosecutor's office of the Netherlands informed Malaysia that it would be accepted into the JIT as a full member.
seems that JIT has become a tool in the hands of the United States
and Ukraine in the fight against Russia. The latest report, in which
they once again accused Moscow, was based on materials provided by a
group of independent journalists from Bellingcat headquartered in the
UK. That source collects and analyzes data from the Internet.
Accordingly, one cannot be 100% sure of it authenticity. However,
their version was taken as a basis, and the remaining versions were
start of trilateral negotiations between Australia, the Netherlands
and Russia indicates that some members of the investigation team have
realized the inadmissibility of the investigation based solely on the
accusations of the Russian leadership. At the same time, the strong
influence of Washington and Kiev within the framework of the JIT
prevents the other members of the investigation team from adequately
assessing alternative versions of the crash.
likely, Canberra and Amsterdam decided to meet with Moscow outside
the JIT format because no one could stop them from hearing the
Kremlin’s opinion about the perpetrators of the MH-17 crash.
Obviously, therefore, all the details of the negotiations are
classified. Meeting participants do not want Washington to interfere
in the search for truth. At the same time, Australia and the
Netherlands proved themselves to be independent countries, having
decided to meet with Russia without US participation. Thus, they
proved that their main goal is to uphold justice and search for truth
to find the real perpetrators.
international investigation team JIT has been trying to find the
truth in the MH-17 crash in the skies over Ukraine for five years.
For quite a long period of time, the investigation did not provide
any material evidence of guilt neither Russia, nor Ukraine, nor
anyone else. The only version of Moscow’s involvement in the Boeing
crash was based on materials from the Bellingcat resource, whose work
is based on an analysis of data from open sources.
the journalists of the British agency carried out a painstaking and
large-scale work. Their document, which they transmitted to JIT, is
filled with a large amount of analyzed data from social platforms and
other open resources. After reading the 115-page report, the common
people have a clear understanding of the Kremlin’s guilt in the
death of 298 MH-17 passengers. The fact is that the document is
clearly accusatory in nature and does not consider other versions of
the disaster. Moreover, there is not a single refutation of the
Russian evidence of the guilt of Ukraine. One gets the impression
that alternative versions are moderately ignored. That is why it is
necessary to figure out whether there were Ukrainian Buk missile
systems in the area of the Malaysian Boeing crash and whether they
could shut down MH-17.
The Ukraine’s provisional president Turchinov issued on April 8, 2014 order No. 405/2014 on the start of the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) in eastern Ukraine. In preparation for active hostilities, the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine created military group of 50 thousand troops. The task of covering military units from the air was assigned to the 156th, 11th and 223rd anti-aircraft missile regiments, armed with the very same Buk air defense system.
representative of the Ukrainian headquarters of the ATO Alexei
Dmitrashkovsky in June 2014, in an interview with the newspaper
Ukrainskaya Pravda, confirmed the existence of air defense units of
the Ukrainian armed forces in Donbas. According to him, 156
anti-aircraft missile regiment was attacked by the separatists.
However, he denied reports of the seizure by the militants of the Buk
proof of the presence of "Buk" in the ATO zone is the award
of the Order of Courage of the 3rd degree to the commander of the
223rd anti-aircraft missile regiment Colonel Alexey Tsukanov on
August 5, 2017. At the same time, the award was presented to him
personally by the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko. It is worth
noting that this award is awarded for personal heroism shown when
performing tasks in a combat zone. In addition, Tsukanov March 18,
2018 at a meeting in honor of the 75th Regiment, stressed that part
of the task of protecting the airspace over the Lviv, Kherson and
Donetsk regions. The participation of the 223rd air defence regiment
in the battles in the south-east of Ukraine was repeatedly confirmed
both by the Ukrainian media and political organizations. On July 14,
2017, a news article appeared on the UKROP party website: "The
Striysky ukropovtsy volunteers brought uniforms to fighters fighting
in the east." According to the text of the artickle, the
volunteers visited the positions of the 223rd regiment in the
settlements of Fedorovka, Soledar, Popasna, Mayorovka, Krasnogorovka,
Vodyanoe and Nikolskoye.
the weapons of the 223rd Regiment in the Donbas were demonstrated in
the television report of the Fifth Channel on November 13, 2015. The
Buk air defense system and man-portable air defense systems got into
the film. As stated by the military, they are able to keep under
control all the airspace of Donbas and for a short period of time
shot down four UAV of DPR army.
presence of the Ukrainian "Buk" missile systems in 2014 in
the ATO zone is obvious. The Ukrainian command could not afford to
leave a large group of troops without air cover. Moreover, on July 6,
2014 there were reports that the separatists got Su-25 plane, which
struck the Ukrainian column. In this case, the question arises: why
the “independent” journalists from the Bellingcat did not
consider and even did not disprove the version of the involvement of
the Ukrainian “Buk” missile systems in the crash of the Malaysian
Boeing. Obviously, the British group of investigators was aimed at
convincing the world community of the correctness of its own version,
and not in the search for the truth. This fact indicates that the
investigation was dependent on somebody. However, it is more
surprising that the official JIT investigators also decided to ignore
all possible options and accepted the journalists' materials for the
truth, which casts doubt on the professionalism of international
July 17, 2014 a flight accident occurred in the skies over the
Ukrainian Donbas. On that day Malaysian airliner MH-17 was shot down
at an altitude of about 10 km which taking flight from Amsterdam to
Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people on board died.
aircraft was shot down as it flew over a zone of active hostilities
between government forces and separatists in the east of Ukraine.
specially created joint investigation team JIT determined that the
plane was shot down by a «Buk» missile system. Therefore there is a
question: where did the missile come from to the combat zone and
First, it needs to understand whether the MH-17 was the only aircraft shot down in the skies over the Donbas region at that time period. It turns out that before the Malaysian Boeing crash, the Ukrainian air force suffered heavy losses. The first news in the media about the losses of Ukrainian aircraft dates back to March 26, 2014. On that day, the Mi-2 helicopter of the Armed Forces of Ukraine crashed near Malinovka, Kramatorsk district. Media reported that the helicopter trivially touched the power line. It was not combat losses.
Then in April 2014, operational loss began. On April 25, a Mi-8 helicopter was destroyed at the airfield. According to officials, it was destroyed by a hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher.
10 Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters were shot down on May and June, 2014.
Later nine Su-25, Su-24 and An-30B aircraft were attacked. The
largest one-time losses of the Ukrainian military were happened on
June 14, 2014. On that day, an Il-76 transport aircraft was shot down
in Lugansk. Then 49 Ukrainian servicemen died. This happened just a
month before the tragedy of MH-17.
can think that the separatists' fault in the tragedy is obvious -
they actively shot down Ukrainian planes and could accidentally
destroy MH-17. However, media reported that the attackers used only
portable anti-aircraft missile systems that could not hit the
Malaysian Boeing at an altitude of almost 10 km. And the first
information of the «Buk» air defense missile system in mass media
was appeared only after the crash of MH-17.
this case, there is a question: why did the separatists need the
«Buk» air defense system if they successfully shot down Ukrainian
planes with man-portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile
which are much easier to use? Especially since they already had a
great results of use. Who really needed a more powerful air defense
system in a combat area?
fact is that on July 13, just 4 days before the MH-17 tragedy, Life
News agency reported that the separatists had a Su-25 plane that had
struck the Ukrainian military convoy.
In addition, Kiev accused Russia of supporting the separatists and declared the presence of aviation from Russia in the area of hostilities. So, on July 16, 2014, Ukrainian officials reported that their plane was attacked likely by a Russian fighter jet.
like any self-respecting state, should have taken adequate measures
to protect its troops. This measure was to transfer air defense units
to the Donbas region. At that time, the 156 anti-aircraft missile
regiment conducted such mission in the east of Ukraine and this unit
was armed with the «Buk» air defense missile system. Until
September 30, 2014, the unit was stationed in Avdiivka, Mariupol and
in the Melitopol region.
It is likely that the passengers of the MH-17 fell victim to accidental circumstances and the faults of the Ukrainian military, who confused the passenger airliner with the enemy aircraft. Such fault occurred in Ukrainian history. On October 4, 2001, the air defense of Ukraine shot down «Sibir» airlines aircraft during exercises over the Black Sea. Then the Ukrainian leadership had enough political will to admit its guilt. In this case, the current Kiev authorities never admit to the committed crime, since its position in the international arena is rather unstable. Moreover, such recognition can be fatal for the current Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko in the war for the integrity of Ukraine.