Russian propagandists and disinformers are engaged in discrediting the efforts of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in the MH17 case and are thus attempting to throw into question the lawfulness of the court's work on this case, which started in the Netherlands on March 9.
This is stated in an article published in EUvsDisinfo, the flagship project of the European External Action Service's East StratCom Task Force that was established to better forecast, address, and respond to Russia's ongoing disinformation campaigns affecting the European Union, its member states, and countries in the shared neighbourhood.
"The MH17 case is highly present in our disinformation database; over 200 cases to date," the report said.
The authors of the article grouped the areas of Russian disinformation and outlined five major themes, each of them separately analyzed.
1. “THE INVESTIGATION IS BIASED!”
“Russia was and is not allowed to participate in the investigation!”
There are principles for how crash investigations are performed. Usually, the country where the plane crashed, the country of origin, the country of production of the aircraft and the country of registration of the aircraft set up the investigation. In this case – Ukraine, the Netherlands, the United States and Malaysia. The investigation can accept or request participation of other stakeholders if necessary.
“Russian evidence is ignored!“
Russia has provided the investigation with data that have been thoroughly studied.
“JIT has tempered with evidence!”
The trial is public and evidence will be available for all the parties to study. Any doctored evidence would immediately be noticed.
“JIT is basing the charges on amateurs’ collecting data from social media!“
The JIT have been independently collecting and analysing available data. The investigative team of Bellingcat has corroborated data, collected by the JIT.
“The case is founded on Russophobia and not on hard evidence!”
The point of the trial is to publicly assess the evidence, collected by the investigators. The totality of evidence will be scrutinised by the court.
2. “UKRAINE IS THE CULPRIT!”
“Ukraine air defence shot down the MH17!”
The Joint Investigation Team has concluded that flight MH17 was shot down on the 17th of July 2014 by a missile of the 9M38 series, launched by a BUK-TELAR missile launcher, from farmland in the vicinity of Pervomaiskiy. At that time, the area was controlled by pro-Russian fighters. The BUK-TELAR was brought in from the territory of the Russian Federation and subsequently, after having shot down flight MH17, was taken back to the Russian Federation.
“Ukrainian fighter jets shot down the MH17!”
There were no Ukrainian fighter jets in the area.
“Ukraine did not close its airspace!”
The claim that Ukrainian airspace had been open prior to the crash is false — all traffic over the conflict zone had been prohibited to craft flying below 32,000ft; MH17 passed the area at 33,000ft. At the time, there was nothing to suggest that the presumably ill-equipped pro-Russian separatists would have access to sophisticated weapons capable of shooting down an airplane at that height.
“MH17 was a British-Ukrainian false flag operation!”
An unfounded conspiracy theory
“The passengers of the MH17 were dead several days before the crash!“
A storyline from the BBC crime drama series Sherlock, the episode “A Scandal in Belgravia”
4. “RUSSIA IS MORALLY INCAPABLE OF SUCH ATROCITIES!”
Russia is not on trial. The JIT is charging four individuals, three Russian nationals and one Ukrainian. Official Russia has, unfortunately, failed to cooperate fully with the investigation.
5. “NO ONE WILL EVER FIND OUT THE TRUTH!”
Preliminary publications from the JIT have demonstrated solid evidence, tying the downing to four individuals, charged with murder of 298 persons. The public trial will test the evidence and the individuals will have the right to defence.
These five themes make it easy to produce and fine-tune disinformation to domestic and foreign audiences, illustrate them and amplify them on social media platforms and State-financed media. The approach is there, any kind of facts or evidence can easily be disregarded through these carefully cultivated narratives. The model, outlined by Russian military specialists works perfectly: preventively shaped narratives. Lying beforehand to occupy the information space.
Dmytro Shkurko, Brussels
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