Monday 1 September 2014

Russian Foreign Minister Demands MH17 Data Be Publicly Revealed

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has upped the media offensive in recent days on the Dutch-led MH17 investigation. While calling for an unconditional ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine to "end the suffering of civilians," Lavrov also demanded that data gathered from the two recovered black boxes (currently under forensic examination in the UK) and transcripts of exchanges between the pilots of MH17 and the Ukrainian air traffic control (ATC) must be made available to the international community.

Since August 6th, when Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte consulted with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and suspended the search for body parts at the crash site, the rural towns of Rozsypne, Petropavlivka and Hrabove have borne the scars of recent rocket fire, underlining the dangers of conducting any kind of recovery and mapping investigation. With the absence of many journalists from media outlets on the ground, MH17 has disappeared off the editorial agenda of most western media organisations—with the exception of networks in the Netherlands and Russia.

In any normal aviation investigation, all human remains would have been recovered, the search area mapped out, and debris of the aircraft removed to a secure location. But MH17, like MH370, has been anything but an ordinary investigation. The initial investigators at the crash site of MH17, under the auspices of the OSCE, were simply tasked with recovering human remains and performing an observatory role. Ironically, it was the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), using photographs taken by numerous international agencies present in the area, who presented the first real anatomy and identification of the crash site across the three towns in Ukraine. Since this WSJ article, more wreckage has been located in forests in the region. 

As yet, we are still awaiting the preliminary report from the MH17 investigation team which was meant to be delivered at the end of August. This report will not attribute blame or attempt to resolve who or what brought down MH17, but merely present very basic information.

Whatever initial information the investigation team have from the black boxes, ATC, and military intelligence, it must not be suppressed simply because it does not copper-fasten or support claims made by any government agencies who were quick to farm out blame in the hours following the downing of MH17.     

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