Russian envoy: No precedent for proposed MH17 probe team

Russia is questioning the haste in pushing the resolution on MH17 through, says Yermolov. — Picture by Razak Ghazali
Russia is questioning the haste in pushing the resolution on MH17 through, says Yermolov. — Picture by Razak Ghazali

KUALA LUMPUR, July 25 — Russia is opposing Malaysia’s draft resolution on MH17 citing a lack of transparency and precedent on international tribunals for incidents involving civilian airliners, said Russian ambassador to Malaysia Valery Yermolov.

He said the draft resolution calling for a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the downing of the Malaysia Airlines jet over eastern Ukraine on July 17 last year had excluded Russia.

“The haste in pushing the resolution seems to indicate it will be used to seek a pretext to organise a ‘trial’ over Russia. We think it is logical to wait for an official end of the investigations,’’ he told reporters at the embassy yesterday.

The draft resolution calls for an international tribunal made up of Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the incident which killed all 298 passengers and crew on board the plane.

“Up to this moment there has been no precedent in creating an international tribunal for bring to justice those accused of perpetrating violence against a civilian airliner,’’ he said.

Yermolov cited past instances such as Ukraine having shot down Siberian Airlines Flight 1812 in 2001, and the downing of Iran Air Flight 665 by the United States Navy, and PanAm Flight 103 by Libyan terrorists, both in 1988.

He said Russia had prepared a counter resolution calling for the previous United Nations Security Council Resolution 2166 to be upheld but was open to other avenues of cooperation.

“Malaysia had expressed interest on seeking other options for a resolution of the tragedy besides the JIT,” he said, but declined to provide details as the matter was confidential. 

“We highly appreciate that Malaysia is seeking a conclusion to this tragic event and is willing to explore other solutions. We stand ready to cooperate on the matter,’” he said.

“Russia believes it is important to prevent an emerging split at the UNSC and to work within the framework of 2166, which is exactly what our counter resolution is aimed for.”

UNSC Resolution 2166, sponsored by Australia and passed with a unanimous vote, provides the mechanism for an international investigation headed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Yermolov said the tragedy was being used to take advantage of the situation by blaming Russia, or Russian backed separatists in Ukraine, with the goal of isolating Russia.

“Certain nations have been using the incident from the start to pursue their narrow political goals of attempting to isolate Russia over the problems in Ukraine,’’ he said.

He said Russia had presented evidence to the Security Council that two Ukrainian military aircraft were inbound to the area when MH17 was shot down.

“The aircraft were picked up by Russian radar and observed by witnesses on the ground in the conflict zone,’’ he said.

“But this evidence was brushed aside and requests that Ukraine release the transcripts between those military aircraft and the control tower have been ignored.’’

Yermolov said efforts to get the United States to release their surveillance satellite data had not received any response either.

He called this an irresponsible attempt to cover up the identity of the true perpetrators in addition to using the media to create a negative narrative of the event.

“Within days of the tragedy, there was a powerful and concerted effort to demonise Russia by certain countries using the media, before any information was available,’’ Yermolov said.

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