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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukraine Liveblog Day 151: A Plane 'Shot Out Of The Sky'

Publication: Ukraine Liveblogs
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Was Col. Strelkov's Dispatch About a 'Downed Ukrainian Plane' Authentic?

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?


The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russian Propagandists Spreading More Disinformation -- And It's Working

In a separate analysis we discuss how the narrative presented by the Russian propaganda network RT, formerly 'Russia Today,' changed dramatically from one inflammatory hypothesis to the next. As RT shifted it's narrative, so too did the pro-Kremlin trolls who haunt Twitter and who often appear on RT as 'experts.'

One such 'expert' is RT’s chief political analyst Mark Sleboda. First Sleboda claimed that this was a 'false flag,' a Ukrainian surface-to-air missile which shot down the aircraft. Then Sleboda changed his analysis as RT changed its analysis. This incident was actually a failed assassination attempt on Putin, who was, according to RT, flying 'almost the same route' as the crashed flight MH17.

All of this flip-flopping and disinformation ultimately drove one RT journalist to quit.

Well Sleboda is back with a new theory:

ScreenHunter_408-Jul.-18-17.15.jpg

This matches exactly a claim which was made by "Carlos," a fictional Spanish air traffic controller who does not work at all at Kiev airport, despite his claims. See our earlier update where we debunk the "Carlos" story here.

So this is all disinformation... but it's working:

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Separatists Tampering With Crash Site, Looting From The Dead

CNN and other networks are reporting that not only are the separatists looting, but that they may be tampering with evidence. Since the international community is calling for a full investigation of the crash site, any tampering of evidence could hinder that investigation.

The Guardian goes even further. As we reported earlier, the separatists who at first said that they would cooperate with an international investigation are now blocking the OSCE observers, actually firing a warning shot at their convoy.

The US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, blamed a surface-to-air missile fired by rebels in eastern Ukraine and hinted that they might have had Russian technical help. The rebels are suspected of having used a Russian-built, vehicle-mounted Buk missile system to bring down MH17, killing all 298 passengers and crew. Power called for the crash site to be preserved. "All evidence must be undisturbed," she said. "Russia needs to help make this happen."

But hopes are not high. The OSCE was trying to gain access to one part of the large crash site but the commander of a rebel unit, known as Commander Glum, blocked them. After the warning shot, the OSCE convoy departed.

There is also confusion over the black boxes and other devices apparently salvaged from the plane. A rebel military commander initially said he was considering what to do with them, while another rebel leader, Aleksandr Borodai, contradicting his colleague, said the rebels had no black boxes or any other devices.

The Guardian also notes the sheer amount of Tweets, posts, and claims which have been deleted by the separatists. Their headline: Cover-up: Ukraine rebels destroying all links to MH17 air atrocity

Meanwhile there is evidence that the separatists may actually be moving bodies from the crash site (see update below).

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Pro-Russian Separatists Reportedly Steal 36 Bodies from Malaysian Airliner Crash
Separatist fighters from the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" (DPR) have reportedly stolen 36 bodies of people killed  in the downing of the Malaysian airliner, rbc.ua reported.

The press service of the Donetsk Region State Administration made the announcement, citing eye-witnesses.

The Interpreter has translated the statement:

"After the end of of the active stage of work at the site of the tragedy, representatives of the DPR arrived at the village of Rassypnoye and stole 36 bodies of victims of the air crash. Armed fighters drove away rescue workers and took communication devices from most of them. They loaded the bodies into a truck like sacks. According to the fighters, they intend to take the bodies to Donetsk."

We have no verification of the report, but the fact that the statement was made by a local state administrator adds a certain credibility to it.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Separatist Commander Complains Russian Military Assistance Will Be Hindered Now

Col. Igor Strelkov, defense minister of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" issued a further statement today on the downing of the Malaysian airliner as part of his battle reports published by "Strelkov's Dispatches," a VKontakte group which used the "Strelkov Reports" banner to signify that it is an authenticated statement directly from him.

Strelkov denied any involvement of separatist fighters in the downing of the Malaysian passenger plane and complained that the downing of MH17 means it will be much harder to get Russian aid for the separatists. He denied that he had received as many as 50 tanks from Russia.

The Interpreter has provided a translation:

"In the area of Popasnaya, nobody is 'hurrying' anywhere, although the shelling is really intensive. It's the same outside of Lisichansk: terrorist shelling [by the Ukes] of industrial zones and residential quarters (unlike the Boeing, nobody writes about those). On the whole, the situation with the plane shot down due to the fault of the Ukes (it is precisely their fault, regardless of who really shot it down) has drastically worsened the prospects for Russian aid, and on the contrary, brought the henchmen closer to the long-dream support of NATO 'peace-makers.'

The same scene is being repeated exactly as in 1992-1993 in Bosnia, when Slobodan Milosevic ultimately did not decide to provide full-fledged support to the Serbian insurgents...Does everyone remember the finale? The president mysteriously died in prison ahead of his time, and Serbia was humiliated and cut down to the very bone.

Commentary from Igor Ivanovich Strelkov

[How the news appeared blaming the Boeing crash on the militia]

Strelkov: First, no one admits that our people downed the plane. Second, everyone is certain that the Ukes downed the plane -- because such vileness has already long been expected of them. Thirdly, 'geopolitics' is not characteristic of soldiers in trenches. They will feel the possible consequences of this brilliantly-conducted provocation...if they advance, of course."

[On what is needed for victory of the DPR and LPR (Lugansk People's Republic)]

Strelkov: I need a few more heavy artillery divisions and at least two or three dozen tanks...with them, and also with Truth and with God, it would be immeasurably easier to fight...

[On the St. George Crosses, symbol used by the separatists]

This is based exclusively on the World War II version. The banner is obligatory. The ribbon is exclusively St. George, since that is the Georgian Cross and not the 'coal miners' cross." Suggestions on minor details an be accepted.

[On today's session of the Security Council, where several times the statement was made about the supposed "50 tanks that Russia sent" to the militia. What do you say in that regard?"

Strelkov: I didn't notice them for some reason...But even if [Russia] sent them, what is 50 tanks by comparison with 700-800 tanks used by the Ukes? And with virtually total absence of our own anti-tank artillery and with a very small number of heavily artillery -- it is generally "symbolic" help."


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