Factchecking the Russian Foreign Ministry briefing of March 11, 2016

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The briefing of spokeswoman Maria Zakharova of the Russian Foreign Ministry at March 11 discussed MH17.

I noticed several factual mistakes in the briefing so decided to do a factchecking. The complete transcript of the briefing is here.

I copied the complete MH17 part. My comments are displayed as comment.

TL;DR. Many of the statements of Maria Zakharova are factual incorrect.

The briefing starts here.

Dutch parliamentary hearings regarding the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash in Ukraine

We have not raised the issue of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash in Ukraine for a long time.

On March 1, the House of Representatives of the States-General of the Netherlands hosted regular hearings on the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash in Ukraine. The hearings involved Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. A sluggish Dutch media response to this event shows that the authorities in The Hague are delaying the investigation into the causes of the flight 17 crash.

The Dutch government made clear they do not interfer with the independant investigations lead by the Dutch Safety Board and the Joint Investigation Team. So stating “the authorities in The Hague” is wrong as the text suggest the Dutch government delays the investigation. However, the Dutch government does not seem to be very willing to help find truth as this blog points out.
I do not agree with the sluggish media reports. All major media reported about the hearing.

The authorities in the Netherlands that have failed to completely clarify the circumstances of the tragedy and to answer well-justified questions are now in a hurry to expose and prosecute the perpetrators.

There is no indication for a hurry. In fact the way of prosecution still has not been determined contrary to what Dutch minister Van der Steur had told the Parliament in the past.

It turns out that only the relatives of the victims of the July 17, 2014 disaster in the skies over Ukraine want to know the truth. They regularly voice their discontent with the investigation proceedings and often ask the Dutch authorities loaded questions.

A criminal investigation launched by the Public Prosecution Service of the Dutch Ministry of Justice and a Joint Investigation Team also involving Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine is still plagued by uncertainty, and the overall situation is not transparent.

Not a single criminal investigation is transparent. Only in court the evidence is presented.

Nothing is known about approximate deadlines for ending the investigation or initiating court proceedings.  The investigative methods being used to study about 50,000 testimonies by eyewitnesses from eastern Ukraine that have been collected in the form of text messages and using the Netherlands police website are raising many questions. Even local analysts doubt the necessity of including Ukraine on the investigative team.

50,000 testimonies is a joke. The Dutch prosecutor Westerbeke stated that the investigation team send 50,000 SMS text messages to people who were in the area where MH17 crashed.

All this leads to the conclusion that the criminal investigation is proceeding by fits and starts, and that it could become even more protracted.

As before, the situation around the flight 17 crash cannot help but raise justifiable questions for the authorities in the Netherlands.


So-called evidence falsified by the British Bellingcat blogger team concerning Russian leaders’ alleged complicity in the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash


We are dismayed with the publication by the Netherlands media of assertions by UK organisation Bellingcat about the alleged complicity of Russian leaders in the July 2014 Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 disaster in the skies over Donbass. They are citing as evidence various blurred photos whose origin is absolutely unclear, recordings of certain telephone conversations and the social media accounts of unidentified persons. To be honest, there is nothing new in Bellingcat’s methods. They have always used similar sources of information with regard to Russia, and they have also prepared their own open falsifications and planted them.

A lot can be said about the way Bellingcat reports. In my opinion Bellingcat has a agenda which says Russia has to be blaimed. They are not open for other opinions and change reports if previous statements turned out to be not fitting the narrative.  I have yet to see a report which criticize Ukraine. However there is no proof for falsifications by Bellingcat.

I would like to remind the media outlets in the Netherlands and in other countries (perhaps they have forgotten) that, Der Spiegel magazine accused Bellingcat of lies six months back. At that time, the German publication which accepted a similar false story as authentic had to apologise to its readers.

Wrong again. Der Spiegel did not state Bellingcat lied. Der Spiegel apologized for jumping to conclusions.

In early 2016, the newspaper Trau of the Netherlands also conducted an investigation and established that 15 Bellingcat bloggers were inventing all this nonsense as a source of additional income. As you understand, these bloggers have no information at all and no idea of the disaster’s real facts. They are inventing news at home and sending it to various media outlets.

Thanks to comment of Rob who found the article of  Trouw (Russia did not write down the name of the namepaper correctly as it wrote Trau in stead of Trouw) which describes what is being stated by Maria Zakharova.
Trouw litterly writes: De citizen investigative journalists – burgeronderzoeksjournalisten – zoals ze zichzelf noemen, moesten het tot nu toe hebben van particuliere giften, maar enkele maanden geleden besloot Google een aanzienlijk bedrag in Bellingcat te investeren. “Daarmee kan ik mezelf voor het eerst een salaris betalen”, zegt Higgins. Drie jaar geleden zat de voormalig boekhouder nog werkloos thuis.
<translation> The citizen investigative journalists – like they call themselves, so far were given money by individuals. However a few months ago Google decided to invest a considerate amount of money into Bellingcat. “With that money for the first time I can pay myself a salary, says Higgins. Three year ago the former bookkeeper was unemployed at home.

Trouw  writes something completely different than what Maria Zakharova states.

In turn, television and radio company RTL of the Netherlands also doubts the Bellingcat findings and has noted openly that the bloggers have a very biased view of events, that they are using unverified data, and that they are focusing too actively on Russian officials who might be involved. At the same time, they are not justified in overlooking the role of the Ukrainian side.

Zakharova points to this article by Dutch journalist Jeroen Akkermans of RTL. The statements of Zakharova are correct. Akkermans criticize Bellingcat for focusing on Russia while not investigation the movements of Ukraine army.

Various Western experts and analysts have also voiced their opinion of Bellingcat. For example, a British political analyst said that a senior Dutch government or secret services official had advised the heads of the Joint Investigation Team to use Bellingcat materials. Otherwise their report would fail to interest anyone, he noted.

I am not aware of a British political analyst. This does not mean this statement is incorrect. It cannot be checked by me.

One is amazed, most of all, that state agencies of a country claiming the right to conduct a serious investigation into this tragedy are using Bellingcat materials. The Joint Investigation Team is actually taking this so-called “lead” in line with this “recommendation”. To be honest, one is terrified as to where this investigation may lead.

Dutch prosecutor Westerbeke said several times that the Bellingcat report would be studies carefully. He also stated the results of Bellingcat contributed partly to the investigation of JIT. However JIT has far more information.

Reply by Dutch Safety Board head Tjibbe Joustra to the letter by Federal Agency for Air Transport Deputy Head Oleg Storchevoy


The Foreign Ministry has given careful consideration to the reply published on the Dutch Safety Board website by its head Tjibbe Joustra regarding the circumstances and causes of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 crash. This document is all but a formal reply to the letter by the Deputy Head of Russia’s Federal Agency for Air Transport (Rosaviatsiya) Oleg Storchevoy dated January 14, 2016.

The reasons brought forward by the Dutch Safety Board in its letter fail to provide any new insight into the situation, and do nothing but repeat the conclusions and reasoning of the MH17 Crash Final Report and its appendices. The Dutch Safety Board persists in rejecting well-grounded critiques of the technical investigation that are supported by facts and point to the lack of consistency and unreliability of the data underpinning this report. Russian experts have carried out additional experiments and research, which produced new and important information. Unfortunately, this evidence was refuted without justification as if it did not provide any ground for reopening the investigation. All this goes to show that the Dutch persist in their unwillingness to work together with Russian experts on determining the true causes of the MH17 crash, and instead tailor their reasoning to suit specific goals.

I believe there is some truth in this statement. The appendix as a response to the letter of Oleg Storchevoy of Rosaviatsiya can be read here. The appendix mainly has references to the final report.

The Foreign Ministry is disappointed with the tick box approach by the Dutch which goes a long way towards exposing their unconstructive stance on this issue. We strongly believe in the need to continue professional and tedious efforts to elicit the true causes and circumstances of the MH17 crash over the Ukrainian territory. As before, Russia stands ready to provide the investigation every possible assistance, and Russian experts are also ready to contribute to these efforts, if we receive a request to this effect.

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10 Comments on Factchecking the Russian Foreign Ministry briefing of March 11, 2016

  1. “However there is no proof for falsifications by Bellingcat.”
    Quick check through Google, and I think she meant this http://russia-insider.com/en/bellingcat-caught-and-out-yet-another-mh17-falsification/5723
    The narrative by Bellingcat relies on Sergeant’s Ivan Krasnoproschin dismissal from service in June 2014, while the actual date in the journal is 13 June 2013

  2. This must be the article in Trouw Zakharova is talking about:
    “15 Bellingcat bloggers” Wrong number, according to Trouw there are 19.
    “A few months ago Google decide to invest a respectable sum in Bellingcat. “Now I can pay myself a salary for the first time”, says Higgins”.
    What is Higgins motive? Higgins: “Especially to proof that the Russians are lying”. How do they work? They are no experts. They just use the information from the internet from Facebook, Instagram, Google Earth. It is a matter of careful searching and making connections.
    The point is not that Bellingcat is doing this, but that most of our media is taking it for granted.

  3. Sergey Tokarev // March 15, 2016 at 10:38 pm // Reply

    I just want to ask admin and Marcel MH17research what is the purpose of this propaganda? Do you hope to further vilify Russia and DPR? You have got all publicity from your propaganda campaign you could. It was efficient, it did a lot of harm to honest, decent soldiers of NAF. The Netherlands got gold reserves from the USA, unlike unlucky Germany. What else do you need? Eliot Higgins tried to fool the world about sarin in Ghouta. He failed. The false flag didn’t work, though did harm to Syria in terms of publicity. Enough is enough.

    • Sergey: please let me know in the comments what is wrong about the post. Russia talked a lot of nonsense. It is not propaganda but facts.
      Please explain to me that Netherlands got gold for what reason?
      And please be polite.

      • Sergey Tokarev // March 16, 2016 at 1:22 am // Reply

        Thank you, admin. Apparently there are some inaccuracies in Zakharova’s statement. However let me ask a question: why do you, or DSB, or Dutch govt raise this topic of Eliot Higgins? Eliot Higgins is 1) unqualified, 2) biased, 3) with access to widely available info only, 4) wrong in the past about sarin false flag in Ghouta. If you have endless numbers of employees in DSB, or they work for free, of course you might wish to check all speculations on the web, Eliot’s and others’. However it would be very kind to not to refer to this individual in any official statements. Regards.

        • There are quite a few errors in the statement of Zakharova. How the hell is it possible such a big country like the Russian Federation makes so stupid mistakes? I mean they are not even able to spell the name of Dutch newspaper correctly.
          And you are wondering why the West does not trust Russia?

          So I should not refer to Bellingcat? Cannot believe you are writing that. Russia spokeswomen mentions Bellingcat several times and I should ignore it?
          Yes, Bellingcat has a biased and I do not agree with some of their reports. The focus on blaiming Russia while Bellingcat does not investigate the lies of Ukraine. Yes, they jump too easiy to conclusions without evidence. I have written about Bellingcat as well in a not so positive way.

          I suggest to the Russian Federation to be more professional. So far quality of their information is really really amateuristic. Bloggers does a much better job.

          • Admin, this is diplomacy, not fact finding. In this case you should not look to the details but to the whole picture. You seem to think that in the end the truth will save you or as the Dutch say: “Al is de leugen nog zo snel de waarheid achterhaald hem wel.” However, today this might take at least 25 years, totally out of scope in international politics. In fact your wasting your time analyzing these kind of briefings.
            By the way, did you know this:

          • It is a fact many statements made by Russian authorities are incorrect. This speech is another example. It troubles me a lot because I am wondering why Russia does not tell facts. Each and every time there are inconsistencies. Why not hand over the raw radar data if Russia is innocent. Why block the UN resolution for a court case? I can go on and on.

            I do look at the details as they give an indication about how much I should trust a state or organization. The devil is in the details.

            Thanks for advise about wasting my time. Be assured I will ignore your advise and continue to factcheck.

          • admin, “I do look at the details as they give an indication about how much I should trust a state or organization. The devil is in the details.” No matter how much you check, you never can trust a state or organization, not even yourself. Not because we are all liars, which we are but foremost because we make mistakes. If you really want to know what happened to flight MH17, trust is the first pitfall.
            “Why not hand over the raw radar data?” I have read this article from Farrell and Schuurman. The answer is: because they only existed in real time. Farrell en Schuurman wrote “Be careful to ask about the data formats that are recorded and archived NOT the data formats that are used; in Dublin for example Cat 11 data is used but not recorded.” Not even in the Eurocontrol zone all data is recorded.
            There is a difference between raw data and raw surveillance data. Raw data is all the flight information and noise coming from the sensors. Raw surveillance data is all flight information minus noise. The problem is of course, the investigators are interested in the noise.
            I am no expert and if I were you I wouldn’t trust me, but you won’t get an answer by analyzing this kind of briefings. Besides, what are you going to do, now you have established that many of the statements are incorrect? Ignore everything from the Russian side? I agree with you, details are important, but you are now checking the details from details from details. By doing so you may create more mist than clarity.

    • Sergey, if you read all articles of the block, you will see that admin has been equally frustrated with all parties in the issue: Russia, Ukraine, the Netherlands and USA. All parties are bullshiting and none can stand on higher ground of morality. Zhaharova is not an exclusion in this case. I wish she would think more before talking, particularly when she writes on Facebook. But assuming that Putin doesn’t think either there are no surprises here. I mean his “Mission accomplished in Syria” or that he was “in charge of events in Crimea”.

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