“Civilians were not hurt” – a reconstruction of the alleged Strelkov posts and their origins

Extended guest blog by Arnold Greidanus

A victim's body fallen through the roof of a house at Rozsypne. Photo by Jerome Sessine. Copyright: Magnum Photos
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Shortly after MH17 was downed on VKontakte a social media post surfaced in which Igor Ivanovich Strelkov allegedly bragged about the separatists having downed an AN-26 freighter plane, which turned out to be the Malaysian Airlines passenger plane. That post was based on a short report by ‘Margo-Donetsk’ from Strelkov’s ‘Military reports’ thread at the forum-antikvariat.ru website.
In this report the post at the ‘Strelkov_info’ Vkontakte community and its source will be examined, within the context of what was known on social media at that time. In addition, a reconstruction of the ‘Military reports’ thread from that afternoon and evening is presented, demonstrating that any trace that could associate Strelkov’s thread to the downed Boeing was rigorously deleted.

This post has been transferred to Arnold Greidanus’ site.
For the full text go to: http://www.arnoldg.xyz/civilians-were-not-hurt/

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10 Comments on “Civilians were not hurt” – a reconstruction of the alleged Strelkov posts and their origins

  1. Wow! Superb article!

  2. A very respectable work!

  3. I don’t have time to go over every picky detail in this very long piece, but you’ve introduced a mistake of your own in claiming I’ve made a mistake. Go back and read my post here:


    I did not say “Margo’s post was no. #3162”.

    I said this: The next post after hers by someone named “Tiger1313,” showing that it was sent at 18:12:12 is numbered #3162.

    Some other quick comments:

    – Preduprezhdali zhe is not hard to translate or ambiguous — it is easily understood to mean “But we warned them.” “Zhe” is used for emphasis in Russian.

    – The reason Margo or any other person in this story would suspect the shooting down of an AN-26 transport plane is because that was the type of plane that was shot down before by Russian-backed separatists.

    – Snizhne (Snezhnoye) and Torez are frequently mixed up by people who don’t live in that region. Gerashchenko, at that time working for the Interior Ministry, mixed up the location of the shopping market parking lot picture by confusing these two locations, sending geolocators on wild goose chases.

    – Russian media reported the separatists bragging about shooting down a plane after they were gifted with a Buk:


    So while we can endlessly parse social-media pixels, the pro-government and state media itself contains damning evidence of the possession of the Buk and the shooting down of a plan they thought at first was an AN-26 transport plane.

    – I have heard from people who heard the Zello conversation live or heard tapes that Margo got her information from Zello.

    – There’s an enormous amount of speculation about why/how Margo said “no one was hurt” (not true) without understanding a basic feature of culture in this and other post-Soviet areas: they lie as an automatic reflect to diminish anything that might damage those in power, which in this case is the separatists. This reflex — saying everything is fine when it isn’t — isn’t that different than a NYPD saying that two identical explosions aren’t related or may not be terrorism to calm the public. The difference is that in NY, the free media and elected government will ferret out the truth faster; in the Donbass there is Russia to help suppress it.

    I have heard all kinds of theories about the identity of Margo, from the notion that she is an alter-ego of Strelkov himself, to his girlfriend, to a male separatist to just what she seems, a female supporter of the separatists with direct ties to them to get information by cell phone or Zello, and not wait for social media.

    If you haven’t already, be sure to examine all these videos and the dialogue of villagers.


    • Arnold Greidanus // September 24, 2016 at 9:09 am // Reply

      Indeed, you first wrote Margo’s post was numbered #3161, but a bit further on in your article you also wrote: “But when we look at the top of his actual post as it remains, the number says “#3153″– although if it came before Margo-Donetsk’s
      post about the downed plane (as seen from the screenshot), which was number #3162, it would have to be numbered #3161.”
      It was this sentence, I was referring to. Anyway, it’s not really important. The real mistake you made was comparing the sequence number #3161 from July 17th, with #3153 on the current version of the thread, concluding nine posts were deleted.

      As to the translation of Предупреждали же: I consulted three persons on this, of which two are native speakers. In any case, your translation “But we warned them” has the same meaning, emphasizing they had been warned and it needn’t have happened.

      I also mentioned the downing of the AN-26 on the 14th was still fresh in memory, and also that on the 17th there was news reporting that the pilots of that plane had been found dead. (And that news got mixed up with accounts of the allegedly jumped pilots of the 17th).

      If you know people who have unpublished Zello recordings, it would be nice if they were published anyway.

      As to the videos, I know these. I also referred to the last video and the fragment where someone is alluding to the Buk transported that day.

    • CAtherine a good reaply with some common sense. But you’re complicating things as well. It doesn’t have to be “Explained” why it was said “no one was hurt” or “civilians were not hurt” because there wasn’t — in the context of a militariy (enemy) plane crashing without causulaties as far as the local population went “the residential sector”.

      No need to bring culture into that issue. In general I think this whole blog post is much to do about very little or in one word “pettifoggery”.

      As for the interpretermag sources, it’s clearly cherry picking: they take statements “we have a BUK ” as true but clearly the (denied by Ukraine) “we captured BUK” from the same sources would be false. It just means one does NOT have good sources at all. Only speculation then remains.

  4. Arnold Greidanus // September 24, 2016 at 10:03 am // Reply

    “Martial law from Stalin era” basically means extrajudicial punishment and firing squad executions. Strelkov himself has admitted some cases.

    With regards to the ‘Progress’ mine: indeed “mentioned” should be in between quotes. The text of the 16:34 tweet by @helenaspb (10 минут назад упал самолет в районе Тореза. Ждем от местных что именно упало) does not mention the name Progress, but contains a link to the Military Maps website with the coördinates 48.0894014,38.5783477, as I mentioned in my report. That location is just above the Progress mine, and south of Rivne. To someone not familiar with the area around Torez that piece of information will not immediately be associated with the Progress mine.
    In any case: the name Progress wasn’t mentioned on Twitter before 16:37, when Margo published her post. It may have been mentioned on Zello before that time, but that’s uncertain.

    With firsthand sources I wasn’t referring to Strelkov, but contacts at a more operational level. But, to be clear, of course I am not knowledgeable of her contacts. In my report I’ve provided arguments that certain bits of information (like the sentence on the second downed plane) must have come from sources within militia. As I also mentioned she may have picked up info from the DPR’s Zello channel or the COV_Novorossia Zello channel. Given the social media posts of the latter, they reported information from the crash site early on.

    Indeed, Strelkov himself didn’t brag about the downed plane. Your statement that all the information was already available prior to Margo’s post is an interpretation in hindsight. As to her mention of the AN-26 and the Progress mine I already wrote that it is impossible to determine on what source she exactly based that.

    With regards to the report by the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center: you’re probably referring to this item – http://uacrisis.org/6210-malaysia-airlines-crash ? They wrongly misinterpreted the second Strelkov_info post to be published at 16:50 already, disregarding the real timestamp of 17:16. Okay, but what’s the big deal? After all Strelkov_info already reported on the downed plane at 16:41.

  5. The earliest references related to the disaster dates as at 21.45, June(!!!) 17 2014.
    “Soon the liner fully packed with innocent euro-tourists to be shot down over the Ruina (Ukraine). This will be the occasion for the official NATO invitation. So do I see.”
    Writen at 21.45, June(!!!) 17 2014.

    One can dig in this direction and also find a lot of “evidence” of another point of view. The Internet like infinity. Everything can be found and used for different purposes. But the serious analitic can not use this methods.

    In general. Trying to find the truth in social networks instead of analitics based on meticulously collected technical information is a sign of confusion in the mind.

    Nevertheless, if author purports to be exhaustive and impartial (and we don`t welcome propaganda here, right?) he has to do little bit more complex study.
    For example:
    Let us take randomly a quote and make a very little study.

    “Он летал над Торезом. Сбили прямо надо мной. Он пошёл пикировать в район Квартала. Я именно видел самолёт. Чётко видел, это Ан-26. Сейчас дым стоит, капец какой”,
    (It was flying over Torez. (It) was shot down straight over me. It began nosediving towards Quartal area. For certain I saw a plane. (I) clearly saw it was An-26. Now there is a heavy smoke)
    Put the russian quote in google and you will find out that it is listed just in 2 sources. One – at mh17.webtalk.ru. Another – here. But in webtalk there is another quote from the same author from the same Zello record.
    “Он летал тут очень долго, я наблюдал как бы, возможности сказать не было, со связью проблемы были. Летал тут очень долго и очень высоко. Потом был большой бах, короче говоря его сбили и он пошел вниз. Видел это всё на своих глазах.”
    (It was flying here for a long time. I was watching, but have no opportunity to say. There was a problem with communications. It flew here very for a long time and very high. Then there was a big bang, in short, it was shot down and it went down. I saw it all by my own eyes).
    Very interesting, isn`t it? If we are taking for granted his first statement, why not believe in the second? Oh, no. Ukraine has said there were no other flights at that day…

    P.s. (looking at the photo on the wall behind el-Murid and Strelkov) Everyone who is not а novice in russain blogosphere know that neither Strekov nor El-murid are pro-putunists.

  6. Arnold Greidanus // September 25, 2016 at 10:07 pm // Reply

    With regards to Military maps: if you read that tweet there’s no direct hint at Progress.

    That “succesful operation” is their way of paraphrasing and summarizing the contents, from the ‘superior’ perspective of knowledge in hindsight. You may dislike that, but does it really mean that much to you?

    As to the @worldnewsday tweet you’re mentioning: everyone who would click on that link would instantly know it was presenting news items of the 14th. The same goes for most tweets that mentioned Su-25 and linked to articles about the Su-25 downed in the early eve of the 16th. Confusion, yes, but not in this way.

    If you have any sources on that Zello conversation, it would be nice if you could provide them.

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