Russia continues to criticize Bellingcat

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At the April 6 briefing  by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova again Bellingcat was criticized. The transcript is here. Bellingcat  responded via a posting on the Facebook page.


Bellingcat as an instrument to divert attention from investigating the tragedy of the Malaysian Boeing over Ukraine

We took note of an interview with Bellingcat representatives for the BBC in which they sarcastically spoke about some “trolling” on the part of the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Ministry of Russia, for allegedly attacking them.

I would simply like to recall that we do not attack anyone, but rather, give our unbiased assessment of the work of both this group and those who use its materials as reliable information.

We understand the purpose of this group’s activities. Acting jointly with the current Ukrainian authorities, they continue to use all possible “fakes,” to create quasi-evidence to blame Russia. Why do we take this position and on what is it based? Even now the commission (investigating the circumstances of the Boeing tragedy over the territory of Ukraine) prefers to ignore Russia’s reasoning, which is corroborated by facts and evidence, in particular by tests and experiments. The commission ignores it to the extent that it makes no reply to this reasoning, while at the same time passing off these “fakes” for the hundredth time as proof or integrated evidence, even when this information has been debunked, and not only by Russia.

At present, we have information,that leads us to believe that loyal and handy witnesses in this case are being selected and presumably trained. This begs the question: why is all this being done? The aim is once again to give the global community fabricated proof of Russia’s aggression. This seems blasphemous in this case, because people died there and their families want to know the truth. One may endlessly combine all these invented stories and collect evidence allegedly found on social media sites and at the same time ignore the results of experiments, including those provided by Russia. All this can be done only if you neglect to consider one thing: this case is not just an information campaign, it involves human lives, the destinies of the victims’ families, who definitely want to know the truth.

Bellingcat responded via the Facebook site 

In an April 6 press conference, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Maria Zakharova accused Bellingcat of using fake evidence, cooperating with the Ukrainian government, and other untrue claims. We have sent the following letter to the Russian Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Russian Embassy to the United Kingdom requesting specific examples or evidence to support their accusations:

Dear Sir or Madam,

Both the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense have accused Bellingcat of preparing “open falsifications,” passing off “fakes,” using “faked posts,” and making “pseudo-hypotheses.” Bellingcat has never created fake information, and has never included “faked posts” as evidence in its investigations. After months of false accusations in official press conferences, we request that the government of the Russian Federation provide specific examples of the “fakes” and false evidence that are supposedly published by Bellingcat.

Additionally, on April 6, the spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused Bellingcat of “acting jointly with the current Ukrainian authorities.” Bellingcat has never acted jointly with any body of the Ukrainian government. We request any proof held by the government of the Russian Federation that Bellingcat has cooperated with the Ukrainian–or any other–government in its research or publications.

The government of the Russian Federation seems very concerned with providing an “unbiased assessment,” in the words of spokesperson Zakharova, of the work of Bellingcat. We request concrete proof to support its accusations.

Yours sincerely,
Eliot Higgins, Bellingcat

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15 Comments on Russia continues to criticize Bellingcat

  1. Sergey Tokarev // April 7, 2016 at 9:50 pm // Reply

    Perhaps Marcel won’t agree with me, but IMHO Zakharova’s speech is perfect in its wording.
    The only debatable aspect is that Higgins wants exactly this: to divert attention from real investigation, win time, elevate himself as worthy opponent by recieving repies from Foreign Ministry, eventually drown opponents in spam. Possibly the best tactics for Zakharova would be to completely ignore Higgins.

  2. I suggest to wait for a response of the Russian Federation to the request of Bellingcat. I do agree it would be better for Russia to not pay any attention to Bellingcat.

    • sotilaspassi // April 8, 2016 at 6:28 am // Reply

      Paying attention to Bellingcat only rise Bellingcat credibility and works against Russia.
      (It seems clear Russia has hard time in understanding how open media works.)

      If they pay attention, the only right way would be to share real counter evidence instead of words & lies etc.

  3. In case you are wondering what Maria is probably referring to, it’s about the article published in 2015, where Bellingcat used Photoshop metadata and ELA as proof that the satellite image is fake:

    Russian blogger’s article about this [this is a copy]:

  4. Liane Theuer // April 8, 2016 at 8:01 am // Reply

    Eliot Higgins : „We request any proof held by the government of the Russian Federation that Bellingcat has cooperated with the Ukrainian–or any other–government in its research or publications.“

    Bellingcat MUST have cooperated with some government bodies.
    For example, how was it possible to get the RAW images of the alleged plume without collaboration with the SBU ? Because the originals were handed over to the SBU.

    “As part of this investigation, Bellingcat contacted the photographer who took the smoke trail images, and provided the images in a RAW image format.”

    Olaf Koens quoted Pavel Aleynikov :
    “I contacted a friend of mine and gave him the photos, including the originals. That friend contacted the SBU and they were interested in the photos. He handed them over to the SBU. After that I had to explain the details of the photo to them and hand the camera over to them.”

  5. Liane Theuer // April 8, 2016 at 8:09 am // Reply

    Bellingcat is involved in a project named OCCRP which is supposedly concerned about the detection of corruption around the globe.

    But if you go to the OCCRP website and look closely they have only one goal: Vladimir Putin.
    Who finances OCCRP ? The CIA via USAID and Open Society!
    Open Society is George Soros attempt to gain global dominance. OS also directs the Foundation Open Ukraine (it is part of the Soros “Open Society”). Partner of Open Ukraine: NATO, National Endowment for Democracy, the US State Department, Chatham House and an international “Renaissance Foundation”, which is funded by George Soros.

    Aric Toler works for RuNet Echo
    „RuNet Echo is a project of Global Voices Online. Funded by the Open Society Institute, the project’s main purpose is to expand and deepen understanding of the Russian Internet (RuNet) and related online communities.“

    July 2/2015 Interview “ZEIT” with Eliot Higgins :
    “Aber wir veröffentlichen diese Erkenntnisse nicht nur auf unserer Website und in den Medien, wir treten an Regierungen heran, sprechen mit verschiedenen Organisationen, politischen Entscheidungsträgern. Es verblüfft mich einfach, wenn immer noch jemand sagt: Nun, wir wissen nicht, ob russische Truppen in der Ukraine sind. Diese Leute sitzen in Regierungen! Und wir sagen ihnen: Hier sind die Beweise.”
    Translation :
    “ But we publish these findings not only on our website and in the media, we come closer to governments, speak with different organizations, policy makers. It simply amazes me, if someone still says: Well, we do not know whether Russian troops are in Ukraine. These people sit in governments! And we tell them: Here are the proofs.”

  6. Hector Reban // April 8, 2016 at 12:02 pm // Reply

    ¨The commission ignores it to the extent that it makes no reply to this reasoning, while at the same time passing off these “fakes” for the hundredth time as proof or integrated evidence, even when this information has been debunked, and not only by Russia.¨

    I guess Zakharaova is thanking you, Marcel, for your and Arnold´s great work too 😉

    • Hector, I’m pretty sure she’s only talking about things that were in Russian press at some point. See the links in my previous post. That is what she probably had in mind.

      • Hector Reban // April 9, 2016 at 7:40 am // Reply

        It was a *joke*, Buran 🙂

        • Sergey Tokarev // April 9, 2016 at 1:03 pm // Reply

          Every joke has a share of joke, as we say in Russia. Bloggers on this site apparently contribute to the investigation more than anybody else, including people I disagree with on many issues, like my Finnish neighbour Solitaspassi.

  7. A feud between Maria Zakharova and Eliot Higgins would help Russia keep in the news MH17 and Russia’s claim that their contributions are being ignored while the West callously uses this human tragedy to score political points.

    Higgins is otherwise useless to Russia or for that matter to anyone who wants to know what happened.

  8. Anton Noniem // October 19, 2017 at 10:01 pm // Reply

    Are you funded more than, say, $1,000,000 a year by entities which control governments?

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