‘Insults and pathetic lies’: Russian diplomat slams WaPo over praise for Bellingcat MH17 claims
Dmitry Polyanskiy, first deputy permanent representative at the Russian mission to the UN, sent an open letter to the Post on Friday, after a July 25 story in the paper quoted him “in a very dubious context.” The story talks about how “truth is winning” in a battle against “Russian disinformation,” pitting Polyanskiy against the plucky social media investigators from Bellingcat - who just so happen to toil on behalf of the NATO-backed Atlantic Council.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014 when it went down over the Donetsk region in Ukraine. All 283 passengers and 15 crew on board perished. Ukrainian air traffic control directed the flight through a combat zone, where government troops were trying to impose control over two rebellious regions by force.
Kiev and its allies in the West immediately accused the rebels or Russia of shooting down the airliner, with Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins claiming a Russian Buk missile battery was present in the area at the time, based on youtube videos and social media postings.
#Misinformation ALERT: @washingtonpost publication on #MH17 tragedy does not meet standards of an unbiased journalist report. Its main message is to illustrate alleged “Russian efforts to undercut findings” of @bellingcat and “propaganda efforts of 🇷🇺government” - @Dpol_unpic.twitter.com/djmzdzzT9V— Russian Mission UN (@RussiaUN) August 3, 2018
Though it has been excluded from the official investigation, Russia has provided “a lot of information and material to the investigation team, in particular primary radar data,” the diplomat wrote.
Moscow also provided classified information on Buk missiles 9M38 and 9M38M1, Polyanskiy added. The missile manufacturer Almaz-Antey “modeled the incident and widely shared technical data and the conclusions of this simulation.” Eyewitness accounts of local residents were also provided to the Dutch Joint Investigation Team (JIT). By contrast, the US has refused to provide satellite imagery allegedly bolstering the case against Russia, saying it is classified.
Though raw radar data provided by Russia showed no missile heading towards the airliner, the Dutch investigators argued the radars could simply miss such a small object. Not so, the head of Russian air regulator Rosaviatsia said in June 2017.
If the missile was flying the way the Dutch investigators said it was, “the radar would register at least two or three clear ticks – the so-called echo-signals from an object, moving towards the plane,” said Oleg Storchevoy.
“To us the whole idea to use social media accounts as a proof in any investigation is extremely bizarre and doubtful,” Polyanskiy wrote, especially given that the source of funding to these investigators “casts obvious doubt on their impartiality.”
There are a lot of social media investigators on the web who, contra Bellingcat, “clearly indicate that Ukraine is behind the downing of MH17. Why are they ignored while Bellingcat accounts are praised and unquestioned?” the diplomat wondered.
When challenged about their methods, sources and conclusions by other social media users, “all the bellingcats do is attack and bully,” the diplomat wrote, pointing to his own interactions with Higgins and his followers. “They just do not have other arguments besides insults and pathetic lies.”
“What worries me most of all is that after four years of the MH17 tragic accident we are still very far from establishing the truth,” Polyanskiy wrote, describing the JIT efforts to blame Russia based on Bellingcat claims, missing US and Ukrainian evidence, and total disregard for Russian data and documents as “another step in this totally wrong direction.”
Efforts to exploit the feelings of the victims’ relatives and mobilize them in support of these “unsubstantiated claims” are “absolutely immoral,” the Russian diplomat said.
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