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  Europe
Russian Government Announces Its Position on "MH17" Trial at the District Court of The Hague
Special Contribution
By Russian Embassy in Seoul
Editor's Note: The Embassy of the Russian Federation in Seoul presents the contents of two briefings by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova.

Dated March 6 and March 12, 2020 respectively, press releases of the Russian Embassy in the Netherlands are on the trial of the crash of "MH17 flight" at the District Court of Hague.

The Russian Embassy in Seoul announced recently that the press releases represent the official position of the Russian government on this issue.

The Russian Embassy in the Netherlands
on the MH17 Trial

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) was a passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was shot down by the surface-to-air missile on July 17, 2014 while flying over eastern Ukraine. All 283 passengers and 15 crew on board were killed.
In connection with the trial on the crash of "flight MH17" on July 17, 2014 in the airspace of Ukraine which started in the District Court of the Hague, we would like to express once again a principled assessment of these developments.

The Russian Federation is not a party to the case. At the same time, Russia, while remaining fully committed to the letter and spirit of the UN Security Council resolution 2166, has consistently advocated and advocates for a comprehensive, thorough and independent investigation, as well as for a just punishment of those who are responsible for this tragedy. To this end, our country has provided and continues to provide all necessary cooperation to the international investigation through legal assistance channels.

At the same time, we cannot help but pay attention to the fact that the media in the Netherlands is fanning an accusatory campaign against Russia and its citizens. This, obviously, has been done in order to fill in the existing gaps in the evidence base and to strive towards the confirmation of the determined version of the alleged involvement of the Russian Federation in the tragedy.

To amplify the desired effect, references to witnesses whose names are classified, indications of the sources that cannot be disclosed or, on the contrary, are found in the social media and cannot be verified for authenticity have been made. At the same time, however, the issue of Ukraine's non-closure of its airspace for civil aviation flights in the context of an internal armed conflict in the summer of 2014 has been hushed up. A significant amount of information and data about the circumstances of the incident transmitted by Russia has been ignored so far. The investigators are not interested in why all the prosecution officials who had been investigating the crash were dismissed in the Ukraine exactly on the eve of the trial’s opening.

All this once again gives us reason to doubt objectivity, impartiality and transparency of the Joint Investigation Team’s work, in the activity of which we were denied the opportunity to participate.
We do not wish to prejudge the court's decisions. We hope that it will consider impartially all the available information and not only the arguments articulated by the prosecution in the course of the adversarial proceedings.

Start of the MH17 Trial at the District Court of The Hague

The first session of the trial on the crash of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014 started in the District Court of The Hague on March 9-10.

During the previous briefing we gave detailed coverage of this issue on the eve of the trial. We said the Western media had launched an unprecedented accusatory media campaign that has become direct pressure on the court and an aggravation of anti-Russia sentiment.

Now that the first session has been held, it is clear that our evaluation was well grounded. Although the court dealt only with procedural issues in this session, like the schedule and the order of the sessions, and the presence of participants, the frenzy over the trial has not abated. On the contrary, it has been fueled by some Western politicians, investigators and prosecutors.

I noted the unceremonious approach of the prosecution that is openly precipitating the trial and demanding that the court formally sanction the only imposed version of the crash as soon as possible. I will offer only one fact by way of example. At this point, Dutch prosecutors are quoting the testimonies of some anonymous witnesses that ostensibly have indisputable evidence of the guilt of the defendants. As usual, the public is being influenced by the “highly likely” thrills of the activities of the Russian secret services. They are being accused of attempting to identify the witnesses, intimidate them and impede efforts to establish the real picture of the tragedy. A lot of fake news has been published during these days.

I would like to recall that Russia is not part of this trial. Moreover, the assertions of Russia’s involvement in this disaster are groundless and are based on questionable sources.

Charges have been brought against one Ukrainian and three Russian citizens. Attorneys represent one of them. They have already requested that the court carefully study all 30,000 pages of the trial materials. That, of course, will take them some time (this opinion is shared even by non-professionals). Legal counsel has justifiably raised questions that we and certain Dutch MPs have asked many times, notably, why Ukraine did not close its air space over the zone of the hostilities and why this issue has not been fully investigated. Up until now, dozens of well-grounded questions also remain unanswered. Questions have been raised not only by Russians but also by politicians, journalists and civil society representatives that have not accepted the mainstream version that was basically imposed on them.

We do not want to anticipate the court’s verdicts. We hope all accessible information, rather than the arguments of the prosecution alone, will be reviewed at the trial without bias. If the trial is truly independent and unbiased it will have to include a study of all the facts around this tragedy, require additional examinations (this is obvious), and question other witnesses and experts, not just those selected by the prosecutors. It will be necessary to analyse in detail the actions or inactions of the Ukrainian authorities, and to verify the authenticity of the photo, video and audio feeds presented by the prosecution. This is just the first look at what should be done at the trial if it is truly unbiased.



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