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Friday, 31 July 2015

Njet

On 30 July 2015, Russia voted "No" to a draft UN Security Council (SC) resolution asking for a UN tribunal on the downing of MH17 which killed all its 283 passengers and its 15 crew members. A recent Russian poll amongst 800 Russians in 46 Russian regions, suggested that 47% of the Russians are in favour of this tribunal as the Russian population expects that such a tribunal would confirm the responsibility of either Ukraine (85%) or the USA (17%). Only 2% of Russian respondents think that Russia is responsible (Moscow Times). Remarkably, these poll results add up to a 104%.

Unfortunately, I can only find some sound bites of the speech of the Russian Ambassador to the UN SC, Vitaly Churkin. However, those words are to a large extent similar to an official press release by the Russian Embassy in Malaysia. Hence, I will use the statements from that press release as the Russian arguments for their Njet are quite interesting.

"Russia is interested in a comprehensive, accurate, independent and transparent international investigation of the catastrophe of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17". Why? There were no Russian casualties and the incident happened on Ukrainian soil. Formally, there is no Russian involvement.

"There are many serious questions concerning the organization and conduct of the investigation." By whom? The only questions seem to come from Russia. This does not make any sense given the aforementioned lack of Russian involvement in this incident.

"Russia has been insisting on making the investigation transparent, first of all, with respect to the UN Security Council." Why would Russia insist on this when there is a lack of Russian involvement?

"Since the day of the disaster we have been witnessing a powerful information attack on our country in international media and fora (including the UNSC). It has been groundlessly claimed that Russia or "separatists controlled by Russia" were responsible for the downing of Flight MH-17. Such irresponsible and unproven statements are being issued up to this moment. Their aim is to negatively influence the media background surrounding the investigation. We consider such statements and unfounded accusations as an attempt to dissimulate the true facts concerning the catastrophe and to cover up the identities of the true perpetrators of the crime." There it is. This is the information that is unknown to the Russian population which still believes the official Russian version of events that Ukraine was (in)directly responsible for the downing of MH17.

How would a Russian comprehensive, accurate, independent and transparent investigation look like? The best example to me is the murder of the Russian politician Boris Nemtsov on 27 February 2015. Interestingly, his murder may even be (in)directly connected to the situation in Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian President, Boris Nemtsov was preparing to reveal his evidence for the Russian involvement in Ukraine (Inquisitr, Economist). The murder investigation on Boris Nemtsov (Forbes, FT, PoliticoTelegraph) clearly shows how Russia would deal with a politically sensitive investigation like MH17. 

Interestingly, Leonid Bershidsky claims in Bloomberg View that Russia's "Njet" is merely related to America's "No" on extraditing its citizens wanted for crimes committed elsewhere.

"I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma: but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest". Winston Churchill.