Thursday

1st Oct 2020

Letter

MH17: Punishment without crime?

  • A memorial to the 298 victims of the July 2014 MH17 attack, in Donetsk, Ukraine (Photo: Jeroen Akkermans)

Last week a number of politicians and diplomats used the fifth anniversary of the MH17 flight tragedy as a pretext to renew attacks against Russia.

The level of absurd in these statements varied, but their aim was the same: try to cement in the minds of people the idea of Russia's guilt in this catastrophe notwithstanding any logic and law.

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It came as no surprise that the leaders in this shameful competition were representatives of the so-called "new Ukrainian political elite" (though in fact many of those people had been in high positions in Ukrainian politics years before the coup d'état in Kiev in 2014).

An extensive article by the Ukrainian ambassador Mykola Tochytskyi, published on EUobserver, is a typical example.

This official constantly assures that Ukraine and other Joint Investigation Team (JIT) members are committed to find out the truth, and addresses pathetic calls on Russia to unconditionally admit "its guilt" and cooperate with the JIT.

He also pragmatically uses this possibility to refresh some other well-known talking points of 'pro-Western' (though not always pro-Ukrainian) Kiev politicians.

Some of these mantras have been successfully tested by many of their 'Big Colleagues' in Europe and overseas, namely the thesis regarding "great and terrible Kremlin propaganda", the bulk of which has nothing in common with either disinformation or official Russian position.

But for some reason Tochytskyi forgot to note that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that refused to cooperate with the investigators and transfer its radar data in particular.

Moreover, as a UN Security Council member, Russia supported UN SC Resolution 2166, as it has always sought and will seek to facilitate constructive international efforts to clear up the circumstances of the tragedy.

The problem is that JIT members essentially refuse to take into consideration any facts that undermine the strategy determined on the very day of the crash, i.e. to blame Russians for everything.

At the same time, after almost five years of a "profound and comprehensive investigation" there are still many more questions than answers in the case. And one does not need to be an expert to raise them.

More questions

Why are the main JIT conclusions based on such doubtful sources as "independent" bloggers, social media, suspiciously low quality pictures and video, catchy digital imitations and indecipherable telephone interceptions records, provided by an obviously interested party?

Why was the Ukrainian affiliation of the missile presented by the JIT itself not taken into consideration?

Why are other numerous data, witnesses, experts conclusions, results of natural experiments, which are a priori impossible to falsify, declined with sometimes sincerely outspoken motivation that all this information contradicts the general line?

What is the essence of the mutual agreement between the JIT members not to publish any information unless it is approved by all of them, including Ukraine, whose interest in accusing Russia and Donbass republics is unambiguous?

Does such an approach contribute to transparency and independence of the investigation?

And among others, why was Malaysia, being the JIT member, the country of origin of the plane, the crew and many passengers, reluctant to hastily join 'the democratic world' in its blind crusader attack against Russia, noting numerous flaws of the investigators' work?

In the long run, is it normal being a JIT member to declare, that absence of evidence does not prove the lack of guilt, in fact mocking the cornerstone principles of the modern democratic society, which the Ukrainian ambassador praises with the same extent of diligence and insincerity?

What about respecting the famous presumption of innocence, numerous international documents, such as the European Convention on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and others?

Finally, is it moral to make use of the MH17 victims' kin and beloveds' grief for political gaming?

All these and many other reasonable questions do not seem to bother Tochytskyi and, unfortunately, many Europeans.

Pretending willingness to establish the truth, they are only obsessed with the question "when will Russia be punished?".

Let me remind a simple and logical principle, illustrated more than a century ago by the brilliant Russian writer, Fyodor Dostoevsky: punishment is inevitable, when it is consequence of a committed and proven crime.

But the main question: who is behind the death of 298 people on board MH17 as well as other numerous crimes in Ukraine, especially against Russian-speaking peaceful Ukrainians in Kiev, Odessa, Donetsk and Lugansk right after the 2014 coup, cynically called "revolution of dignity", still remains unanswered.

And the only way to find the truth is through painstaking, professional and depoliticised investigation, answering many tough questions. That should be obvious to any really impartial Ukrainian, Russian or EU observer.

Author bio

Sergey Kovalevskiy is press attache of the Russian Mission to the EU.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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