MH17 families wrong to blame Putin, says Russian envoy

Russia’s ambassador to Malaysia, Lyudmila Vorobyeva advised against apportioning blame without the evidence from an independent investigation into the tragedy. —  Picture by Choo Choy May
Russia’s ambassador to Malaysia, Lyudmila Vorobyeva advised against apportioning blame without the evidence from an independent investigation into the tragedy. — Picture by Choo Choy May

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 — The families of those killed on the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 are wrong to blame Russian President Vladimir Putin for the disaster, Russia’s ambassador to Malaysia, Lyudmila Vorobyeva said today.

Her message comes as Russia attempts to engage the world with its own version of events on the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in a part of Ukraine controlled by Russia-backed rebels.

Russia’s version implicates Ukraine and contrasts with the narrative provided by the US and Ukraine which has quickly gained currency.

Vorobyeva advised against apportioning blame without the evidence from an independent investigation into the tragedy in which 298 people, including 44 Malaysians, were killed.

“It is an easy solution to channel your anger to a leader, or rather a country very much demonised by the Western media,” Vorobyeva told reporters at its embassy.

“But these are feelings, these are emotions. Not facts.”

The ambassador thanked Malaysia for its cautious, neutral approach at a time of heavy speculation.

“We’re very appreciative, very thankful to the Malaysian government,” she added.

Last night, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak clarified Malaysia’s cautious response amid global outrage over the apparent downing of Flight MH17 by a Russian missile.

He said discretion was often necessary to secure “a better outcome”.

“We want the international community to have clear view of events,” Vorobyeva said, insisting that any allegations that Russia was behind the disaster was “groundless”.

She also claimed that evidence provided by the Ukrainian government was fake.

The Ukrainian security service has so far released two audio recordings, purportedly proving the involvement of Russia in the downing of MH17.

Vorobyeva also mocked Ukraine for the speed with which the evidence was produced, saying that “real evidence takes time”.

It took Russia five days before producing their own version, which show MH17 deviated from its flight path, satellite images of Ukraine’s “Buk” M-1 missile launcher, and the presence of a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet in the surrounding area.

She said the pro-Russia separatists do not possess the vehicle-mounted “Buk” M-1 missile system and the capabilities to operate them, and that Russia has not provided them with any.

The remains of some of the nearly 300 victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane downed over Ukraine were making their way to the Netherlands today as a senior Ukrainian separatist leader handed over the plane’s black boxes to Malaysian experts.

However, Vorobyeva refused to comment if Russia had a hand in brokering the deal between Najib and Alexander Borodai, the prime minister of the self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic.

“It is [Malaysia’s] perfect right to enter into contact with anyone who can help to resolve this situation and this contact proved to be constructive and fruitful,” she said.

“The result is the decision by the rebels to hand the black boxes to the Malaysian experts.”

The Boeing 777-200ER, which was on a scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 298 passengers and crew, was shot down over Ukraine on 17 July. There were no survivors.

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