Ukraine: Separatists took Flight 17 bodies as part of coverup


McClatchy Foreign Staff

Ukrainian officials on Saturday accused pro-Russian separatists of hiding evidence _ from moving the weapons thought to have shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 to removing 38 bodies from the crash site _ that will impede the investigation of the tragedy that killed 298.

Speaking at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center in Kiev, which has been active since the nation first plunged into crisis last winter, officials claimed armed Russian separatists “forced Ukrainian officials from the Emergencies Ministry, the Interior Ministry, and the procurator to leave the crash site,” according to a government press release on the statements. The statement continues: “The Russian mercenaries then loaded the bodies into a truck and delivered them to a morgue in the city of Donetsk.”

The Ukrainian statement alleged the reason was to remove missile shrapnel from the bodies, an act that would make it more difficult to prove conclusively that a BUK missile took down the plane.

Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said: “The cynicism of these bandits has exceeded any limits.”

Ukrainian Ministry of Interior adviser Anton Herashchenko posted on his Facebook page that Russia has removed the BUK anti-aircraft missile system that shot down the jet from Ukraine. He claims Russia has taken it back to Russia for destruction.

The BUK system is seen as central to any investigation.

The Ukrainian security ministry on Friday released a video in which officials claimed they have evidence proving pro-Russian separatists had the capability to shoot down the Malaysian Airlines jet.

The video claims that earlier Thursday, on the day of the attack, Ukrainian counterintelligence received what it had considered reliable information that separatists had received both the BUK anti-aircraft system thought to have brought down Flight 17, and the Russian military staff that would know how to operate it.

The video begins by showing scenes of the wreckage and noting, “The Security Service of Ukraine has established certain circumstances of the terrorist act committed on July 17.” It goes on to note that “the available information allows to assert that the Boeing 777 was shot down by terrorists of the Donetsk People’s Republic with the use of BUK anti-aircraft missile system capable of hitting aircraft at high altitudes.”

Most national leaders around the world have stated that this is probably what happened, though have hedged by saying a full investigation is needed first.

The Ukrainian security service video is more definitive. It notes that at the time of the shooting, the presence of the BUK system in the hands of pro-Russian separatists in the eastern edge of Ukraine had not been fully confirmed.

Information gathered that day, both before and after the plane tumbled to earth, offers the evidence needed to prove the involvement of both the separatists and the Russian Federation, the video asserts.

The video then shows a conversation between what they claim is a leading separatist and an officer of Russian military intelligence at 7:12 p.m., July 14, two days before the jet tragedy. In it, the separatist leader notes, “We already have BUK. We’ll be shooting them down to hell.”

The video then shows a map of the region, with arrows showing what where they think the BUK entered Ukraine from Russia. The information is said to have been gathered on the morning of July 17, the day the jet was brought down.

At least one BUK-M system is said to have been moved from Russia into Ukraine and the hands of separatists at 1 a.m. on July 17. The Ukrainian counterintelligence service reports that the system came complete with a Russian crew to man it. It was first sent to Donetsk, then on to a smaller community to the east.

That morning, a Russian intelligence officer and separatist were recorded talking. While the Russian officer appeared to talk vaguely when asked, “Where should we load this beauty?” by referring to it only as B and M, the separatists replies, “Yes, yes, yes. BUK, BUK.”

The video goes on to note that the system was intended to join a column of tanks; at one point it was even noted that the column was behind a motel in a village called Hornostaevka.

While officially, Russia continues to deny responsibility, there are media reports from Moscow that Russians have been leaving flowers outside the Dutch Embassy there, many with notes asking for forgiveness, and some even asking the Dutch to understand that “not all Russians are murderers and terrorists.”

Even in official publications, the information is being seen in Russian.

According to the Russian agency, Valentin Nalivaychenko, Ukraine’s internal security chief, said, “A criminal investigation was opened and the allegation is an act of terror for shooting down an airplane on the territory of Ukraine. The passenger plane was shot down with a BUK-M system that had been moved here from the territory of Russia. We have evidence for that.”

Iva reported from Kiev. Schofield reported from Oslo, Norway.

Read more World Wires stories from the Miami Herald

  • Suicide bombers kill 15 at north Nigerian college

    Two suicide bombers killed at least 15 students Wednesday at a government college in Nigeria's northern city of Kano, police and emergency officials said.

FILE - In this Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 file photo, smoke, dust and debris rise over Gaza City after an Israeli strike. The Palestinian economy is expected to contract for the first time in seven years in 2014, shrinking by 4 percent, the result of the recent Gaza war, continued Israeli and Egyptian restrictions on Palestinian trade and a drop in foreign aid, the World Bank said Tuesday. The downturn is expected to be sharpest in war-battered Gaza, with a projected drop of 15 percent, the bank said.

    UN says building materials to Gaza may quadruple

    A deal reached on war-battered Gaza's reconstruction is set to be implemented in the coming months, with the amount of building materials entering the territory expected to quadruple, a U.N. official said Wednesday, in the first details of the agreement to emerge.

Rescue workers search for survivors in the rubble of a collapsed building belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, Nigeria Wednesday, Sept, 17. 2014. A Nigerian televangelist whose followers across Africa and beyond believe he has powers of healing and prophesy is now beset by crisis after one of his buildings collapsed, killing at least 70 people amid allegations that church officials didn’t cooperate with rescuers. The exact circumstances of the disaster as well as the death toll remained unclear on Wednesday, five days after the disaster at a multistory guesthouse and shopping area for T.B. Joshua's Synagogue, Church of All Nations, on the outskirts of Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital.

    Nigerian preacher faces scrutiny after disaster

    A Nigerian televangelist whose exuberant followers across Africa and beyond believe he has powers of healing and prophesy is now under scrutiny after one of his buildings collapsed, killing at least 70 people.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category