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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Was Col. Strelkov's Dispatch About a 'Downed Ukrainian Plane' Authentic?
3 years
Russian Propagandists Spreading More Disinformation -- And It's Working

As we reported 17 July, the post that originally appeared in a group called “Strelkov’s Dispatches” on the popular Russian social network VKontakte (VK) showed that the pro-Russian separatists were boasting about having downed yet another Ukrainian airplane — or maybe even two — just as they had done on 14 July with a powerful anti-aircraft system in Krasnodon.

As this apparent admission of the downing of the plane seemed to be a smoking gun in the tragedy of the Malaysian airline, it has come under much scrutiny as possibly a “fake” or just a blog post of an unofficial Strelkov fan group that might be prone to erroneous postings.

Yet the post was real and duplicated on many pro-separatist outlets as well as Russian and Ukrainian media sites, despite being deleted later; we have found multiple examples where it is still on line, and the Christian Science Monitor found it on the Wayback Machine.

And the VK group was not just a fan group -- from our long observation of this group and other Strelkov-related pages, we can say this group’s posts have long been cited by regional media and have been corroborated by what Strelkov himself as said in person at press conferences.

Even more important, the very same talking points in "Strelkov's Dispatches" were independently used by separatists interviewed by Russian state media -- and most of those article still remain online.

So with a bit of Google forensics of news stories still preserved as they were reported at the time, we can see that:

a) the “Strelkov Dispatches” VKontakte group is trusted and used regularly by a variety of state and independent media and was used for this story;

b) other separatist sources cited by the Russian state media, independent of the VK group, had the same version of the “Ukrainian transport plane” story talking points as the “Strelkov Dispatches," and they were used as sources without any reference to VK;

c) the eye-witnesses who reported the downing also made the presumption that separatists downed the airplane — and this was also assumed by the writers of the Russian state news stories.

For further example and analysis, read Was Col. Strelkov's Dispatch about a Downed "Ukrainian Plane" Authentic?