Russian media is covering up Putin's complicity in the MH17 tragedy
In Russia, errors like shooting down a Malaysia Airlines jet could not have happened, so they simply won't have happened
On Thursday in eastern Ukraine – where Russian-supported separatists
have declared an autonomous state – a plane with civilians on board was
The plane did not crash and it did not "collapse" – as
was written by some of the Russian media – it was shot down from the
ground. We in Russia know this – if not from our own news organizations,
then from several video commentaries, including one in which a little
boy says, "Look! A junta plane has been shot down! Well done, DPR!" (The
DPR is the Russian-backed Donetsk People's Republic, and the "junta" is
the legally elected government of Ukraine – the typical way for Russian
propaganda to refer to the present government in Kiev.) This child does
not know – and may never find out – that the downed aircraft had
children like him on board.
In their reporting on the tragedy, the
Russian media defined the accident scene as "east of Ukraine",
forgetting the terms such as "New Russia", "DPR", "LPR" – the Lugansk
People's Republic, another separatist territory in Ukraine – for the
evening. In the new Russia, such errors could not have happened, so they
simply won't have happened. Our government, and its collaborators in
the media, will see to that.
The people do not need to see
tragedies, they seem to believe – only victories of the Russian
soldiers, the heroes of their homeland, and the brave patriots in
eastern Ukraine that we should support.
The alleged Vkontakte page of Igor Strelkov, "patriot" and leader of the pro-Russian army in Donetsk, bragged
that the DPR’s army shot down a Ukrainian AN-26 aircraft about a half
hour after the tragedy. "We warned them not fly 'in our skies'", it
said, without any photographs to prove it was a military plane. A few
hours after going viral, the statement was removed. Friday, the author claimed that the dead bodies – reportedly seen falling through the air as the plane disintegrated – were already dead, another claim parroted by the media
Boroday, the prime minister of the self-proclaimed DPR (who was added
to the US sanctions list a day before MH-17 was taken down) simply
declared: "If it really was a passenger airliner, we did not do it".
This statement is a concise version of the position often adopted by
Russian authorities: do not admit to anything, whatever happens, however
Almost immediately after the tragedy, Ukrainian
president Petro Poroshenko officially announced that Ukrainian troops
were not involved in the attack on the airplane, noting that they didn't
even have weapons capable of shooting down a plane at that range.
Russian President Putin responded to Poroshenko five hours later by
accusing Ukraine of responsibility for the disaster – though all of
Russian television media seem to have beaten him to that, at least after
they finished repeating that it was a Ukrainian military transport
plane that was shot down.
By this weekend, the international media
will likely stop using the term "militia members" and nobody outside of
Russia will call the Donetsk army representatives anything other than
"terrorists". Here, though, Putin will continue his support for the
people that the West will call terrorists. The DPR's anti-aircraft missiles
– which everyone believes were used to shoot down the plane – were
probably transferred from eastern Ukraine back to their Russia owners
under cover of night, and records of their possession have already been
erased from Strelkov’s page and widely denied by the separatists who
were nonetheless seen using them. But in Putin's Russia, you can't
believe your eyes. You have to believe what you are told.
too much evidence that the Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down by
the pro-Russian DPR army. Not on purpose: it was a stupid, horrible
accident, a mistake too easily made when people get confused (or are
deliberately confused by their leaders), when inchoate rage and
patriotism are aimed at a target as big as the sky. But rather than
admit their mistakes, our leaders ask us to accept a lie. After all, as
Duma representative Sergei Kalashnikov wrote, "Will it be any easier for
you if you find out who shot the plane down?".
It won't be easy –
but it is nonetheless necessary to find out who shot the plane down,
though endless layers of propaganda will have to be shoved aside. And
having to do so will make the discovery of the truth about this tragedy
even more painful, once you understand all the forces that don't want
you to know the truth.