Three Russians and Ukrainians are suspected in the crash of the MH17 flight: we understand who they are
The International Investigation Team (JIT) first announced the names of four people suspected of being involved in the Boeing crashshot down over Donbass in July 2014. Three of them are Russian citizens.
According to the investigation team (which includes representatives of the Netherlands, Australia, Malaysia, Belgium and Ukraine), the plane was shot down from a Buk missile launcher belonging to the Kursk 53rd Air Defense Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces.
According to the investigators, the following may be involved in the Boeing crash:
- Sergey Dubinsky, retired officer of the GRU Russian Army
- Oleg Pulatov, lieutenant colonel of the Airborne Forces Reserve of the Russian Army
- Leonid Kharchenko, a citizen of Ukraine, the commander of the intelligence unit of the GRU self-proclaimed DNR
- Igor Strelkov, Minister of Defense of the self-proclaimed DPR
Investigators believe that Dubinsky, Pulatov and Strelkov now live in Russia, and Kharchenko - in the east of Ukraine, in the territory not controlled by the government of the country. All four are on the international wanted list, and the case will be transferred to a Dutch court before the end of the year. The first court session will be held on March 9, 2020.
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At the same time, at a press conference, representatives of the investigative group noted that they would not appeal to the Russian authorities to extradite suspects, since they understand that the Russian constitution prohibits the extradition of citizens to other states.
At the same time, the investigation team will ask the Russian side to independently interrogate the defendants in the case. Russia still refuses to answer the questions of the investigative group, the representative of the group stressed.
The Russian Defense Ministry denies the involvement of the Russian military in the plane crash and puts forward alternative versions of events.
In response to a BBC question, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that the Kremlin's attitude towards the investigation is "very well known."
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“Russia did not have the opportunity to take part in it, although from the very beginning, from the first days of this tragedy, it took the initiative, proactively tried to become a part of this investigation, this monstrous catastrophe. Therefore, our attitude towards this investigation is very well known, ”he said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry called the accusations against the Russian side absolutely unfounded and aimed at discrediting it. “We continue to have fair questions about the quality of the JIT. All this confirms our earlier concerns about the bias and one-sidedness of the ongoing process. Nevertheless, the Russian Federation will continue to assist the investigation so that the truth about the death of flight MH17 is established, and the real perpetrators of the incident are justly punished, ”the website of the Russian diplomatic service says.
The BBC tells what is known about the people whom the investigation team called.
Oleg Pulatov, callsign "Gyurza"
The name of a retired Airborne Forces officer is mentioned for the first time in connection with the Boeing tragedy.
In 1990, he graduated from the Kiev Higher Command School. Judging by the data from open sources, Pulatov fought in Chechnya, has two Orders of Courage and a medal "For Courage".
According to the SPARK base, Oleg Yuldashevich Pulatov in the 2000s was the commander of military unit 85954 - this is the 54th separate airborne assault battalion, based in Ulyanovsk.
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By decision of the Ulyanovsk Garrison Military Court, Pulatov was fired from service due to health reasons in the 2008 year.
According to Bellingcat investigators, Pulatov arrived in Donbass in the spring of 2014. A little later, he headed the 2 th division of the GRU DNR (special forces and military intelligence).
According to SBU radio intercepts, it was a man with the call sign "Gyurza" and a voice similar to Pulatov's who accompanied the "Buk" from the town of Snezhnoe, was near the complex at the time the missile was launched at the Boeing MH17, and then went to the crash site. According to Bellingcat, it was Pulatov who found and handed over the black boxes of the downed Boeing to the DPR leadership.
Leonid Kharchenko, call sign "Krot"
Kharchenko is a citizen of Ukraine, a native of Donbass. According to investigators, in the summer of 2014, he commanded various intelligence units of the GRU DNR, was a subordinate of Pulatov and Dubinsky.
Judging by the SBU wiretap, on July 17, 2014, a man with the call sign “Krot” was prompting another supporter of the DPR to find the way to “Buk”.
He may have also coordinated the transportation of the Buk from Donetsk to the launch site and the subsequent evacuation of the complex back to Russia.
In April 2015, Kharchenko became the commander of the second section of the GRU DNR (after Pulatov left). What happened to “Mole” after 2015 is unknown. According to one version, he moved to Russia, settled in the Rostov region and was soon killed.
Sergey Dubinsky, call sign "Khmury"
It was “Khmury”, according to the investigators, who was a key figure in organizing the transportation of “Buk” from Donetsk to the village of Snezhnoe. It was from there, presumably, that the rocket was launched that destroyed the Boeing.
Name Dubinsky in connection with the investigation of the crash of flight MH17 is not mentioned for the first time. It has repeatedly appeared in the reports of the Bellingсat investigation team.
In the Russian press, Dubinsky has long appeared as “General Sergei Nikolaevich Petrovsky”. He is also known as "Khmury" - a nickname he has used for many years, including as a nickname on the forums. His real identity and surname became known after the hacking of Igor Strelkov's (Girkin's) email in May 2014.
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Childhood “Khmury”, according to investigations of Ukrainian journalists, passed in the village of Velikaya Novoselka in the Donetsk region.
According to numerous investigations and interviews of Dubinsky himself, he began his military career in the eighties. During the war in Afghanistan, a young officer led a reconnaissance company of a motorized rifle regiment based in Kabul.
In 1990's, he took part in the war in Chechnya, where he allegedly met Igor Strelkov. Subsequently served in the 22 th brigade of the GRU special forces.
Military rank Dubinsky unknown. On the forums in social networks, he published pictures in the form of a colonel. But in 2014, in an interview with the media, he was introduced as a major general. Who gave him this title is unclear, although in recent photos he was shot in the form of a Russian sample.
Dubinsky lived for some time in the Rostov region. In April, 2014, he allegedly retired and went to serve in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic.
In the summer of 2014, Dubinsky was the head of the DPR military intelligence (GRU DPR). This body appeared in the early stages of the Battle of Slavyansk - the first major confrontation between the pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian army.
Investigators believe that it is possible to talk about the connection between Dubinsky and the disaster, primarily on the basis of telephone conversations intercepted by the Security Service of Ukraine.
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On the morning of July 17, 2014, the day of the crash, Dubinsky discussed over the phone with other militias that the Buk with its crew had arrived in Donetsk. Then he ordered to send in the direction of Snezhnoye the installation with a column of tanks from the Vostok brigade.
On the recordings published by the SBU, the man with the call sign “Khmury” also explained the purpose of the transfer. According to him, the installation was needed to protect the militias stationed on the front line south of Snizhne.
Himself "Khmury" also went to the combat zone. On the afternoon of July 17, he said in a telephone conversation that he was in Marinovka, a village south of Snezhnoye: “They beat with Grad all the time, only now there’s a break. The plane is also now banged, "drying". We have Buk-M, we got it. "
At that moment, according to the authors of the Bellingсat report, Dubinsky still did not understand that instead of a Ukrainian attack aircraft, a passenger airliner had been shot down by mistake.
At the same time, as the investigators assume, at the time of the launch of the shell that shot down the Boeing, Dubinsky was not present near the installation.
Shortly after the events of July 2014, Dubinsky was forced to leave the east of Ukraine because of a conflict with other leaders of the DPR. He now lives in the Rostov region.
Earlier, the Russian service of the BBC by e-mail (the address appeared in the Bellingcat investigation and other sources) contacted the person who appeared in the publication under the nickname "Khmury". He called Bellingcat's findings "a mixture of selected facts and lies" and "an attempt to pull an owl onto the globe."
Igor Strelkov (Girkin)
Strelkov (real name Girkin) is one of the most prominent leaders of the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. It is known that before that he took part in hostilities in Chechnya, Transnistria and Bosnia.
Strelkov became famous after the detachment led by him captured Slavyansk, Donetsk region in April 2014. Prior to that, he worked for many years in the structures of the FSB, then collaborated with the Orthodox oligarch Konstantin Malofeev, who was called one of the main sponsors of the “Russian spring,” in March 2014 he took part in the operation to annex Crimea.
He was forced to leave the republic and resign on August 14, 2014, after which he returned to Moscow, where in subsequent years he headed the Novorossiya movement.
At the time of the Boeing's MN-17 crash, Strelkov headed the defense ministry of the self-proclaimed DPR, which means, according to the investigation, all the separatists involved in the Buk missile launch were his subordinates.
“No comments other than those that were earlier. The Boeing militia did not shoot down, I am not commenting on anything else, ”Igor Strelkov (Girkin) told the BBC.
According to SBU audio interceptions, the day after the Boeing crash, Strelkov discussed the return of the Buk to Russia by telephone.
New Bellingcat Report
Simultaneously with the statement of the investigative group, a new report of the investigating group Bellingcat was published.
In the document, the investigators explain how they established the names of people who may be involved in the death of the flight MH17. This was mainly done on the basis of interceptions of mobile phone conversations.
These interceptions were carried out by the Security Service of Ukraine, which published some records.
According to an investigation based on the analysis of these calls, members of the so-called Bezler Group and the Vostok battalion commanded by Alexander Khodakovsky took part in the destruction of the Malaysian Airlines airliner.
Investigators explain in detail why they believe that the “Gyurza”, who accompanied the “Boeing” to the place from which the missile was allegedly launched, is a retired officer of the Russian Airborne Forces Oleg Pulatov, who also used the call sign “Khalif”.
For the first time, the alleged real name of “Gyurza-Khalifa” was made public on the forums “Antikvariat” and “Glav.su”, where in 2014 all the actions of supporters of the DPR and LPR were actively discussed.
The Russian Ministry of Defense has repeatedly criticized the work of the international group Bellingcat, as well as reports on the investigation into the circumstances of the death of the MH17 flight shot down over the Donetsk region of Ukraine.
The agency stated that "Bellingcat's so-called journalistic investigations distort objective facts," and the information presented in them "has a deliberately anti-Russian orientation and is based on distorted data."
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the authors of the investigation use "data from social networks, various fake publications from the Internet, as well as their own questionable materials" to confirm their conclusions.
Conclusions Bellingcat also rejected in the Kremlin.
The Boeing 777 crash occurred in the skies over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014 at 16:20 local time. The plane was on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. There were 298 people on board, all of whom died. Most of the passengers on board were Dutch citizens.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Elena Zerkal said that gradually the international investigation team will call more and more new names involved in the tragedy.
“This is just the tip. Naturally, then the number of people who are involved in this will be much larger than these four people who will be announced, ”Zerkal said in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine on the eve of the statement of the investigation team.
Earlier, an international investigation team concluded that the liner was shot down by a surface-to-air missile launched from a Buk anti-aircraft missile system near the village of Snezhnoye.
According to the findings of the investigation team, the Buk launcher from which the plane was shot down was delivered to Ukraine from Russia.
Moscow denies any involvement in the MN17 crash, putting forward various and often mutually exclusive versions of the fault of the Ukrainian military.
In September 2016, the Russian Ministry of Defense provided its data on the disaster, stating that the Buk missile was launched not from the area of Snezhnoye, which was under the control of the DPR.
In October 2015, a similar version was put forward by the manufacturer of Buk units - the Almaz-Antey concern. Representatives of the concern insisted that the launch was carried out from the area of the village of Zaroshchenskoye, controlled by Ukrainian troops.
At the same time, the Investigative Committee of Russia has repeatedly stated that it considers the launch of an air-to-air missile by the Su-25 attack aircraft of the Ukrainian Air Force as a priority version of the disaster.
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