Sputnik's MH17 Reporting Spins Out of Control

In the long months between the shooting down of Flight MH17 in Ukraine and the publication the Dutch Safety Board report and completion of the criminal investigation various conspiracy theories have been put forward to explain why the reports are taking so long, and how the reports will be inevitable cover ups. Recently Fred Westerbeke, the chief investigator with the Dutch National Prosecutors’ Office investigating the downing of Flight MH17, had to reiterate that the disclosure agreement signed by participants in the investigation, which required all participants to agree on what was published, was only for the duration of the investigation, and was not a way for Ukraine or other countries involved to cover up the true culprit in the crime, as some conspiracy theories had suggested.

This week Sputnik news has published multiple articles on what has been presented as another attempt to cover up the results of the MH17 Dutch Safety Board investigation. Their July 19th article “Ground for Manipulation? MH17 Crash Investigation Results to be Classified” begins with this ominous passage:

The results of the official international investigation into the MH17 Malaysia Airlines plane crash will be classified, the Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister for European Integration, Olena Zerkal, said at a briefing on Tuesday.

This is based on statements made by Olena Zerkal about the August 10th meeting where the Dutch Safety Board report will be discussed at a closed door meeting:

The Netherlands will present a report on an investigation into the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) crash in eastern Ukraine at an August 10 closed session of an international task force investigating the crash but will not publish it for the time being, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Olena Zerkal said.

“The task force is supposed to meet on August 10 in keeping with Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation. They [the Netherlands] will present this report at the working meeting,” Zerkal told Interfax on Tuesday.

The report will only be discussed at this meeting and will not be published because the meeting will be held behind closed doors, she said.

This is not unexpected, as it’s part of the process of the publication of the report, first beginning with the draft report beinghanded to representatives of Australia, Malaysia, Ukraine, the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands on June 2nd, who were invited to make comment on the report. The expected release date of the report after all the correct publication procedures are followed is October 2015, and nothing in Olena Zerkal’s statement suggests otherwise.

Dutch Safety Board spokeswoman Sara Vernooij confirmed the October release date in response to a question about Olena Zerkal’s statement:

Reports which say that a final report on the Malaysian Boeing crash in Ukraine will be published on August 10, 2015, are not true, Dutch Safety Board spokeswoman Sara Vernooij has said.

“No, we are still working,” she told Interfax, replying to the relevant question.

“We are going to publish the report in October,” Vernooij added.

Undeterred by such statements, Sputnik continued to push the claim Ukraine was blocking publication of the Dutch Safety Board report, first with their interview with Consortium News’ Robert Parry, in an interview titled “Kiev Acts to Classify MH17 Probe Report Points to Continuing US Cover-Up“. It stated Parry had told Sputnik:

Ukraine’s decision to classify the new report on the MH17 airliner crash a year ago strongly suggests that it exonerates Russia and embarrasses Ukraine and the United States.

Thus reiterating the claim Ukraine was responsible for classifying the Dutch Safety Board report. Sputnik followed this with a further report, “Classifying Results of MH17 Crash Probe Unacceptable for Victims – Lawyer“, which states:

Earlier in the week, the Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister for European Integration Olena Zerkal claimed that the results of the official MH17 international investigation would not be available publicly.

And then quotes John Beer, a lawyer for some of the families of MH17 victims, as saying:

I think it would be unacceptable if our clients would not be informed about the full results of the investigation.

This is followed by another Sputnik article, “Results of MH17 Crash Investigation Must Be Disclosed – Russia’s EU Envoy“, which again opens with:

Earlier this week, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister for European Integration Olena Zerkal claimed that the results of the official MH17 international investigation would not be made publicly available.

Most of the rest of the article is dedicated to other matters not directly related to MH17, and the opening paragraphs seem only to exist to reiterate the claims made in earlier reports, with even Russia’s permanent representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov stating “I don’t think this statement reflects the real situation”, probably unaware of how it had been taken out of context by Sputnik in its reporting. It seems Sputnik couldn’t resist using the quote repeatedly to prop up the conspiracy theory that Ukraine is blocking the publication of the Dutch Safety Board, despite the clear statement from Dutch Safety Board spokeswoman Sara Vernooij that the report would be published in October.