Russia wants Ukraine to hand over MH17 key witness

Ukrainian parliamentarian Mustafa Najem says that Russia wants Ukraine to give possible MH17 key witness Vladimir Tsemach to them. Russia, as he states, added the man to a list of prisoners the countries plan to exchange in the coming week.

Ukrainian media resources say that Tsemach previously stated in an interview that he helped to hide the BUK missile with which flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014. All 298 people on board, including 196 Dutch, were killed. He can be called to testify in the trial against four men suspected by Joint Investigation Team (JIT) of involvement in the downing of the plane. The trial will start at the high security court at Schiphol in March next year.

Ukrainian soldiers managed to take Tsemach into custody in June, smuggling him from the self proclaimed Dontesk People's Republic (DNR) and transferring him to Kiev. They say, Tsemach was the commander of a DNR anti-aircraft unit near Snizhne. He is still in Ukrainian custody.

Mustafa Najem

If Russia did indeed ask that Tsemach be transferred to them, it is a strange request. Tsemach is a Ukrainian citizen, which means Russia has no reason to want him. The discussions around the prisoner exchange are taking place behind closed doors, making it difficult to determine whether Moscow really made this request. Ukrainian MP Najem told that he "knows no more" than that the request was made. He would not give his sources, but said that they were reliable.  This means actually, that Najem can not prove his words. On the other hand, Russia can really make an attempt to save a man, who was arrested illegally.