Self proclaimed “independent researchers” try to discredit BUK smoke trail photographer and the BBC

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This blogpost is about the most silly argument ever presented by MH17 truthers. Many times while preparing this blogpost I just could not believe the two self proclaimed “independent researchers” really mean what they say and write.

Yana Yerlashova, a former RT (funded by Kremlin) journalist found in  Dutch blogger Max van der Werff (aka “Kremlin troll”) a usefull help to make a documentary on MH17. Based on their reputation and the promotional video the documentary will be full of disinformation. See my previous blogs on this notorious couple here.

In a video titled ‘How BBC’s Michael Rudin faked my story on MH17” published by the couple end of April 2019 they discredit the BBC. Also the photographer who made photos showing the BUK missile plume is discredited by the couple. Van der Werff published a blogpost on this here.

However the claims are based on nonsense.


In the video Yana Yerlashova claims  BBC journalist Michael Rudin used here words out of the context.  Yerlashova states that the photographer Pavel Aleynikov who made photos of a smoke trail told he went to the window of his apartment and took photos of the plume. Yerlashova  in her video wants her audience to believe there is no window overlooking the launch site. Instead there is a balcony which does overlook the launch site. Yerlashova wanted to explain to the BBC there were inconsistencies in Aleynikov stories.

The facts are there are no such inconsistencies, only in the mind of the propaganda couple.

Yerlashova cherry picked her statement based on an inaccurate blogpost written by a Russian journalist. She ignored two other interviews in which photographer Aleynikov told journalists he made photos from the balcony.

Discredit persons if you cannot discredit the evidence

The practise of Yerlashova and van der Werff is very similar to how Kremlin funded media in Russia operates. First try to discredit the evidence (“the photos of the smoke trail are fake”). If that fails, discredit the persons or organizations who provided the evidence. Van der Werff first stated the photos were fake. However RTL Nieuws consulted experts who stated the photos are real. Then they claim that it is remarkable only one photographer made photos of the smoke plume. However then the Dutch prosecutor showed a second photo  made by another photographer showing the same smoke trail. And now the focus of the two ‘independent researchers’ is on the photographer itself and on the BBC. Extremely sad way to operate.


The photographer who lived in the apartment and made the photos of the BUK missile smoke plume told Business Insider on the day of the shot down (July 17, 2014):

Although he did not see the plane crash, he said he ran to his window after hearing the sound of an explosion after the plane fell to the ground. He could not see the situation from his balcony, so he climbed to the roof of his house and “saw the smoke on the horizon.”

Dutch RTL Nieuws published an interview with Aleynikov at December 22, 2014. The english translation can be read here. His story is similar to what Business Insider published. This article published at July 25, 2015 also describes Aleynikov took the photo from his balcony.

Photographer Aleynikov told Olaf Koens, journalist for RTL Nieuws, that after hearing an explosion he ran to the covered balcony. He took photos of a white trail in the sky.

Twisted facts by “independent researchers”

The self proclaimed “independent researchers” Van der Werff and Yerlashova  completely ignore the statements of the photographer as published by Business Insider and RTL Nieuws.

Yerlashova made a statement in a BBC documentary on MH17 : “there is no window in his apartment facing that area”. She repeated a similar statement in her own produced video released end of April : “you cannot see the plume site from any window in Aleynikov’s apartment”

In this video Yerlashova also states:  “He (photographer Aleynikov) claimed he saw the plume out of his window. Why would the photographer lie I do not know”.

By stating the photographer lied about the view of his apartment Yerlashova discredits the photographer in an attempt to spread doubt about the photos he made.

Yerlashova seems to refer to the article written by Russian journalist Sergei Parkohmenko. Seems as she does not mention on what source she based her false claims on. Parkohmenko communicated  end of 2014 with Aleynikov using Facebook private messages. In this communication Aleynikov agreed to an interview with RTL Nieuws. Parkohmenko and RTL Nieuws journalist Olaf Koens know each other.

Parkohmenko writes on his blog:

I (the photographer) ran to the window and saw that the wind was slowly smearing the smoke trail over the horizon. 

What Parkohmenko writes is not correct and incomplete. He left out  Aleynikov went on his balcony and took the photos of what he later realized was a smoke trail of the BUK missile. Parkohmenko  also writes the photo of the white smoke plume were made from the roof which is not correct.  Aleynikov confirmed to me that the story has ‘inaccuracies’.

Yerlashov and Van der Werff jumped to very silly conclusions. They concluded , based on their Russian propaganda mindset, that if Parkohmenko does not mention the balcony in his article, the photographer could not have been on the balcony. And could not have seen the smoke trail from the window. (which is not proven by the video of Yerlashov )

As I said, an extremely silly way of thinking which can only be explained by the propaganda mindset of the couple.

Balcony overlooking Saur Mogila

In the video produced by Yerlashova we see she enters the Torez apartment of the photographer. Someone living in the building opens the frontdoor. She says there is a balcony overlooking Grabovo. And she also tells there is another balcony on the other side of the apartment overlooking Saur Mogila. That is the balcony of the kidsroom. When looking towards Saur Mogila the launch location can be seen as well.

The image below shows the layout of the apartment.

Second mistake of couple

This is not the first “mistake” by the couple and won’t be the last.

Both Yerlashova and Van der Werff independently form eachother visited the apartment in Torez where Pavel Aleynikov lived and from where he made the photos of the missile plume. Van der Werff was not able to enter the Aleynikov apartment on the 9th floor when he visited the building. He went on the rooftop of the building instead and made a video. He later wrote a blogpost stating the missile pluim photos of Aleynikov were fake. Van der Werff failed to publish his own photos showing cables running in front of the balcony of Aleynikov. Showing these photos would prove Van der Werff was wrong. He later admitted his mistake in a blog post. I documented the fraud by Max van der Werff here. 

On Twitter Van der Werff stated his failure to publish his photos showing cables was ‘a mistake’. Already at that time it was a very weak excuse. Because of the   article written by Russian journalist Sergei Parkohmenko van der Werff was concinved the photos showing the while smoke trail were made from the rooftop of the building. Van der Werff failed to consider the photos could have been taken from the balcony. Which they were.

Now again Van der Werff concludes on a proven inaccurate article that the photographer said he saw the missile smoke trail from a window. It is extremely silly.


Response by Van der Werff and Yerlashova

Via email sent to Van der Werff and via Twitter I multiple times requested both to explain the statements made by Yerlashova in the video. Both did not respond to my email and Tweets with an answer. Van der Werff instead sent this Tweet stating “Trying to explain would be a real waste of time” refering to a website about how to deal with a narcissist. In another Tweet van der Werff stated Eliot Higgins outsourced factchecks to the author of this blog. Which is complete nonsense but it shows the silly way of thinking of Van der Werff. Much more will be revealed about this truther in a future blog.


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1 Comment on Self proclaimed “independent researchers” try to discredit BUK smoke trail photographer and the BBC

  1. Thanks for unmasking these kremlintrolls.

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