Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Botswana
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18 march

Press release on the MH17 trial at the District Court of the Hague


The first session of the trial on the crash of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014 started in the Hague on March 9, 2020. The Western media had launched an unprecedented accusatory campaign that has become direct pressure on the court and an aggravation of anti-Russia sentiment.

This is being done to shape public opinion in the so-called right way, to prepare the ground in order to highlight and, perhaps, in some sense, secure the achievements of nearly six years of work. This, of course, is far from the high standards that our Western partners claim to refer to.

Due to the apparent lack of anything new beyond the repeated accusations, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) made a very strange move they probably see as spectacular (again, as part of the accelerating information campaign) in announcing they had witnesses whose names and identities were, predictably, classified. This sounds like the same old magic formula, “we know for sure it was you who did this from secret sources we cannot disclose,” already a handy tool in a number of high-profile cases, events and incidents, now being applied on a larger scale.

At the same time, important matters of direct relevance to the tragedy – such as Ukraine’s failure to close its airspace to civilian aircraft due to the internal armed conflict in the summer 2014 – which the Dutch parliamentarians seemed interested in, have apparently slipped from public discourse. The huge package of information about the crash provided by Russia continues to be ignored. The investigators are not interested in why all the prosecutors involved in the MH17 inquiry were fired just before the start of the trial in Ukraine.

Yet, the media campaign is gaining unprecedented momentum, with a clear accusatory bias towards Russia and – something absolutely unacceptable – against its citizens. This has been unleashed in the last days before the trial in order to compensate for the gaps in the evidence, to hide the juggling of facts to fit the pre-selected version. Another reason is probably to inspire the idea that the probe was impeccable and predetermine the verdict in advance and prevent any deviation from the line drawn up six years ago.

The unceremonious approach of the prosecution that is openly precipitating the trial and demanding that the court formally sanction the only imposed version of the crash as soon as possible. At this point, Dutch prosecutors are quoting the testimonies of some anonymous witnesses that ostensibly have indisputable evidence of the guilt of the defendants. As usual, the public is being influenced by the “highly likely” thrills of the activities of the Russian secret services. They are being accused of attempting to identify the witnesses, intimidate them and impede efforts to establish the real picture of the tragedy. A lot of fake news has been published during these days.

Russia is not part of this trial. Moreover, the assertions of Russia’s involvement in this disaster are groundless and are based on questionable sources. Charges have been brought against one Ukrainian and three Russian citizens. Attorneys represent one of them. They have already requested that the court carefully study all 30,000 pages of the trial materials. That, of course, will take them some time (this opinion is shared even by non-professionals). Legal counsel has justifiably raised questions that Russia and certain Dutch MPs have asked many times, notably, why Ukraine did not close its air space over the zone of the hostilities and why this issue has not been fully investigated. Up until now, dozens of well-grounded questions also remain unanswered.

Russia does not want to anticipate the court’s verdicts and hopes all accessible information, rather than the arguments of the prosecution alone, will be reviewed at the trial without bias. If the trial is truly independent and unbiased it will have to include a study of all the facts around this tragedy, require additional examinations (this is obvious), and question other witnesses and experts, not just those selected by the prosecutors. It will be necessary to analyse in detail the actions or inactions of the Ukrainian authorities, and to verify the authenticity of the photo, video and audio feeds presented by the prosecution. This is just a look at what should be done at the trial if it is truly unbiased.

The Embassy of the Russian Federation

in the Republic of Botswana