Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 Crashes in Ukraine


The Living Force
Source: 'Dutch continued with secret gas talks with Russia, despite MH17,' says FTM -

‘Dutch continued with secret gas talks with Russia, despite MH17,’ says FTM

March 23, 2021



The Netherlands kept talking to Russia about gas in secret, even though diplomatic and trade relations were frozen because of the downing of flight MH17, investigative website Follow The Money said on Tuesday.

To the outside world, contacts were cut, but behind the scenes the ties were re-established and parliament was not informed, FTM said.

‘After several years of diplomatic standstill, the business community revived contacts between the Netherlands and Russia in 2017 through their joint ‘energy working party,’ FTM said.

The working party, which includes ministers from both countries, was established in the early 1990s and meets every 18 to 24 months to discuss current economic issues.

After the disaster year of 2014 – in which a Russian missile brought down MH17 and Russian troops invaded Ukraine – the business community maintained relations between the Netherlands and Russia by organizing congresses and mutual visits, FTM said.

Parliament was not informed that ties had been revived, and when foreign minister Stef Blok answered questions in late December 2019 about bilateral contacts with Russia, he made no mention of this official group, even though it was scheduled to meet in Moscow a few weeks later.

It is, FTM says, no coincidence that the companies that re-established these ties, including the Russian gas giant Gazprom and the Anglo-Dutch multinational Shell, are also participating in the controversial Nord Stream 2 project.

Surplus gas

These pipelines will transport surplus gas from Russia to Germany (and from there to the Netherlands and other countries). Countries in central and eastern Europe fear that by building the pipelines, Russia will largely bypass the gas network in Ukraine and eastern Europe, making those countries more vulnerable to Russian whims and less important as suppliers to the western part of the continent.

Meanwhile, FTM says, countries like Germany and the Netherlands see the project as a great opportunity to secure their energy supply, and argue that it is ‘purely a business deal’.

The Dutch government, FTM says, is siding with Russia. Evidence of this comes from the decision by the Dutch government to oppose a proposal which would have given the green light to the European Commission to negotiate projects involving energy pipelines from outside the EU, instead of leaving these negotiations to the member states. If accepted, the proposal would have meant the end of Nord Stream 2.

Read the full report, in English


The Living Force
Source: Audio tapes of thousands of overheard conversations, a reconstruction of the MH17 disaster

Nieuwsuur • Interior • Abroad • today, 09:00

Audio tapes of thousands of overheard conversations, a reconstruction of the MH17 disaster

Gert-Jan Dennekamp, reporter

On 17 July 2014, fifteen minutes after the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 takes off from the Schiphol Polder Runway, thousands of miles away a trailer with a BUK surface-to-air missile rides into the Ukrainian town of Snizhne. The two events are unrelated, and would have gone unnoticed, but not in 2014.

Only a few hours later, Snizhne and the Netherlands are forever connected. Who would ever have heard of this little village had it not been for the launch of that one fatal missile? Would we ever have had the ghostly symbolism of the sunflowers in the open field imprinted in our brains? Would we ever have known what a Buk was?

An hour later, MH17, carrying 298 passengers, is on its way to Kuala Lumpur as the trailer with the Buk is parked in the field south of Snizhne. The missile is to be used in the war, where Russia-backed separatists fight the Ukrainian government army. The separatists have a history of downing combat aircraft. As those aircraft fly higher and higher, heavier artillery with greater reach is needed.

160 scheduled flights fly over the battlefield at great heights that day. Too high for the day-to-day belligerence, but within reach of the new weapon that has just been delivered.

Hundreds of intercepted conversations paint a detailed picture of the situation at the time, the quarreling, the theater of war of the moment, the raw reality of a war and of the ambition to hit the Ukrainian air force where it hurts.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

That morning, four 'noses', three 'carnations', an '80', and a loaded truck head for Donetsk. "I need to know where to take them? Directly to Donetsk, or do they go somewhere else?" asks someone who identifies himself on the phone as Bibliotekar. He addresses the man on the other end as Nikolayevich. The drama of war has its own secret language. The main characters hide behind call signs, and the weaponry is camouflaged by terms like 'toys 'or 'carnations'.

The man on the receiving end is Sergey Nikolayevich Dubinsky. As a sign of seniority and respect, his comrades-in-arms address him by his father's name, Nikolayevich. According to the Dutch law enforcement authorities, this Dubinsky has played a key role in the downing of flight MH17. In 2014, his phone was tapped by the Ukrainian authorities. The taps are an important basis for the evidence against the perpetrators. Nieuwsuur has the audiotapes of the phone calls made by Dubinsky in the months of July and August.

Based on those conversations, social media posts, and interviews with experts and people involved, Nieuwsuur has made this reconstruction. The separatists knew that their phones could be tapped, and often met in person, but when that is not possible, they talk on the phone.

Several videos have been made of the transport of the noses on 15 July. Hiding behind the mysterious code names of 'noses' and 'carnations' are four tanks, three howitzers, and an armored vehicle. Bibliotekar accompanies these transports. "I have filled up at a gas station, will bring you the receipt."

The transport on this Tuesday marks the increasing involvement of Russia. More and more material is brought in from Russia to the separatists. Bibliotekar accompanies the transports. It all starts in early July. On 8 July, he calls Dubinsky. He needs a new car, a Jeep because "where we are going, there are no roads". His route starts at the smuggling trails on the Russo-Ukrainian border. The arms he brings are increasingly heavy and deadly. On 17 July, he takes the same route, but this time carrying a BUK anti-aircraft weapon: "Nikolayevich, where do I deliver this beauty?"

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

"Are you sleeping when there's a war going on?" At 7.30 a.m. Dubinsky calls his deputy Oleg from his bed. Oleg - Oleg Pulatov - usually nicknamed Gyurza, the Viper. The chief in Donetsk wants to know where they are at the battle for Marinovka. Marinovka is a village in the South-East Donetsk region. No more than a main road and five dirt tracks, but at the same time a strategic place near the Russian border. It is the battle for this town that will eventually decide the fate of flight MH17.

Earlier that month, Pulatov had been ordered to conquer the border here. "Up to now, we have been unable to break through the defense of our adversary", says Pulatov. The Ukrainian army still controls the Russian border. Dubinsky asks him if a couple of tanks will do the trick but, according to Pulatov, "without any strict military preparations", that will be no use.

The rebels are trying to take Marinovka and want to break through to the Russian border. The fights are bloody. Around noon, commander Leonid Kharchenko calls. His unit is stuck in the town center of Marinovka: "This is a circus." He hides behind the call sign Krot, the Mole. Ukrainian army snipers fire at his positions, they "are shooting us down like dogs". Pulatov has ordered him to defend Marinovka. "They have played a joke on us, stay there and entrench yourselves, but we [don't have] any shovel or any -flicking-g rotten thing."

In this operation around Marinovka, four men play a crucial role. The Russian Dubinsky is the coordinator. The 58-year-old Major General has earned his stripes in the battles for Afghanistan and Chechnya. "He is like water", says someone who has frequently talked to him, "a true espionage and intelligence guy". He is someone who boasts his experience and becomes edgy when someone else questions his judgment.

In the spring of 2014, Dubinsky is living near Donetsk. When he learns that his old army buddy Girkin is taking military charge of the rebellion, he joins him. A month earlier, the Russian Igor Girkin also played a role in the annexation of Crimea. Dubinsky knows Girkin from the Chechnya war. The Russian Oleg Pulatov also fought there. He is Dubinsky's deputy, but the conversations make clear that Dubinsky often chooses to ignore his right-hand man and directly contacts the battalion commander Kharchenko. In July, this former market vendor is given the choice to join another commander, but he chooses Dubinsky. The two men seem to be close.

On 16 July, Kharchenko reports that many men in his unit have been injured or killed. "We are just cannon fodder here", says Kharchenko. "It just sucks", responds Dubinsky.

The Ukrainian army deploys artillery and combat aircraft to strike at the positions of the rebels in the village of Marinovka. "They are bombarding us, we are constantly under fire", reports Kharchenko late that afternoon. Dubinsky wants to know about the losses. "A lot, Nikolayevich, a lot".

The separatists are not only under continuous fire from the Ukrainian army artillery, but also from the air. And they really don't have any answer to that. They have too little ammunition and the anti-aircraft weapon that they have doesn't work, says Pulatov. "All losses are due to an air raid and artillery."

Dubinsky: "I'll send you three thanks, okay?" Pulatov: "And what good will that do? They'll only get burnt to the ground here. They really won't help much here."

The Ukrainian air force drop their bombs from ever increasing heights - out of reach of the weaponry of the separatists. Pulatov: "The tanks won't be necessary. What we do need is long-distance artillery and good anti-aircraft material because the aircraft has operated from great heights, so practically none of our systems could reach it."

The separatists do not have any defense against the artillery bombardments by the Ukrainian army either. Dubinsky is hoping for Russian support on the other side of the border: "We are now talking to you-know-whom, so that we on our end can carry out an attack," says he, and later: "Let the Russians take them down, sons of bitches."

Less than an hour later, Dubinsky calls a colleague, the deputy commander of the 'Vostok' battalion: "Sanych, I'm not sure that my men can hold out there." In this conversation, Dubinsky says that there is nothing he can do against the Ukrainian combat aircraft. It would be good to have a Buk. "If I can get the Buk system early enough in the morning, I can take it there. Then it's okay. If not, I'm in the shit."

This is the first time in these intercepted conversations that we hear the word 'Buk'. A Buk is an anti-aircraft weapon that can down aircraft from great heights. They are often used in combination with a radar and command vehicle to protect strategic targets, but the Buk launching facility can also independently choose a target based on a radar system, albeit a limited one. An hour later, Dubinsky tells his deputy that a Buk will, indeed, be delivered.

Dubinsky: "And furthermore, I will do my best when, tonight, that ... is towed this way, the Buk-M will come your way straight away." Pulatov: "Aha, understood" Dubinsky: "Because there's nothing else we can do, just hope for a Buk." Pulatov: "Aha." Dubinsky: "Well?" Pulatov: "Yeah."

A little later, Pulatov calls back to give him the first good news of the day. They have downed an SU23 Ukrainian combat aircraft, using a MANPADS, a shoulder-fired air defence system. Thirty minutes later, he corrects himself: The aircraft has not been downed by a MANPADS, but by another aircraft. Later that day, the Ukrainian army also reports their aircraft being downed by a Russian combat aircraft.

A little past midnight, Dubinsky gets a call from Skiff, the commander of the Vostok battalion. He promises Dubinsky troops and tanks if he needs them: "All that I have, all my reserves, literally to the last soldier, I will deploy and send over to you." Dubinsky responds: "Well, the Buk is expected tonight. After that, all our problems should be solved."

In early July, East Ukraine is controlled by autonomous warlords, who call the shots in their own regions, but are not trusted elsewhere. In the course of July, Girkin, the Minister of Defence, is put in charge of the separatist armies, but not everyone is immediately willing to submit. That is why Dubinsky is surprised by Vostok's offer. He immediately calls his boss Girkin. "Something major has happened." Girkin laughs: "Perhaps it's my personal charm that does it."

But things do not always go so smoothly. When, in early July, it is rumored that some 100 troops are defecting to Bezler, a separatist leader in another town, Girkin explodes. Dubinsky tries to appease the commotion, but Bezler won't be intimidated by "that faggot in epaulets". Girkin threatens to publish compromising material about Bezler, but if that happens, Bezler will retaliate by publishing his own information "on stealing cars, robberies and all kinds of other shit".

In July, Russia's military as well as its political influence increases. The separatists increasingly take orders from Moscow. Late in the evening of 4 July, Dubinsky receives a phone call. Nieuwsuur has not been able to establish who the caller is, but this man warns Dubinsky: "Today, someone from Moscow has arrived. And it looks like the whole top will be replaced. The political top, that is."

Dubinsky is clearly aware of the situation. "That's correct. There has been an order involving the political top. Borodai is currently in Moscow. He has flown to Moscow." At that point, Alexander Borodai is the political leader of the self-declared republic. "This morning, they went to Moscow. As soon as they're back, we'll know what decisions have been made."

In the same conversation, Dubinsky suggests that military and strategic decisions are made in Moscow as well. For that day, the separatists threaten to lose control of the city of Slavyansk. Dubinsky spends all day on the phone discussing the situation with military commanders. "You have to convince Pervy (Girkin) that the people have to leave there. Otherwise, we will lose everything", says a commander to Dubinsky, but Dubinsky answers: "The point is that he has just contacted Moscow, and they won't allow us to leave Slavyansk." Late that night, he reports that the decision has been made: "It's today, today, tonight, all night long." The separatists withdraw to Donetsk.

In another conversation, Dubinsky also implies that Moscow has a big say in the matter: "I talked to Moscow yesterday. 'Number one' has talked to Moscow as well. They got to the top." And when, earlier that month, Dubinsky has a problem with a rebel, he contacts a Russian number. In that conversation, Dubinsky suggests that the problem be submitted to a head of the intelligence service of the Russian ground forces in Batajsk. In this city near Rostov, a unit of the Russian military security service, the GRU, has a base.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

A little past 9:00 a.m., Bibliotekar reports to Dubinsky by telephone. "Hi Nikolayevich, where do we deliver this beauty?" Dubinsky asks whether this is about the Buk-M. Bibliotekar confirms. It is on a trailer and the crew have arrived with it.

A few minutes later Bibliotekar hears that he is to join a Vostok tank transport. The Vostok column is set up near the base on the edge of Donetsk. The conversations that follow make clear that, in the end, Vostok does not wait for the Buk but leaves earlier. The assistance of 'Vostok' is necessary, claims Dubinsky: "In Marinovka, two of my platoons have been crushed, bone and all." The Ukrainian army does not attack but its artillery strikes at the village from a distance. "They just have four batteries shooting, -flick- them."

At 9:30 a.m. Dubinsky calls his associate Pulatov, who is in the Marinovka area at that point. Dubinsky: "Krot will tow the Buk-M to you any minute now." Pulatov: "Yes, understood." Dubinsky: "You are to set it up near Pervomayskoye, that Buk-M. And Vostok will send three tanks as security."

A little later, Kharchenko is ordered to take the Buk to Pervomaysk. "Set up there, and take the rest of the people with you. You are a reserve and you need to guard that thing." And, he adds, "Gyurza (Pulatov) will join you later." A minute later, he reports the status to Pulatov. They are to go to Pervomaysk to "guard the Buk". Dubinsky: "... you wait for Lonya (Kharchenko). Lonya is now sending that B-M, you understand, right?"

Pulatov: "Yes." Dubinsky: "The Buk, the Buk." Pulatov: "Yes, yes, understood ( )" Dubinsky: "Understood. So, you, Lonya, and the rest look up Pervomaysk. Once you get to Pervomaysk, your job is to be reserve to guard that BUK and to organize that...., you understood, do you?" Pulatov: "Yes."

At the end of the conversation, Dubinsky repeats his order one more time: "Your job is to be reserve and to guard that B. You understand me?"

Around 12:45 p.m., the Buk transport reaches the town of Snizhne. On the way, they have caught up with the Vostok tanks. A few days earlier, the city was bombarded by the Ukrainian army, but it is still firmly in the hands of the rebels.

Journalists of the AP press agency see the Buk in the town center of Snizhne around 1:00 p.m. There, the Buk is unloaded from the flat-bed and then drives to Pervomaysk on its own. Now that the transport has arrived in Snizhne, Bibliotekar has other things to worry about. He calls Dubinsky because he needs a crane "that can lift 36 tonnes", because 'one' that is broken has to be taken to Krasnodon, a city on the Russian border.

Dubinsky also has other things on his mind. Around noon, he gets a call from a bank employee who complains to him about armed men confiscating their cars. "So, those guys are out there now, trying to take our cars. Could you please come over and sort that out?" She points out to Dubinsky that, in the whole town, there is only one armored car left for all the cash transports. After some deliberation, Dubinsky allows her to keep the cash-in-transit van, but all the other cars are being confiscated. Also in other conversations, Dubinsky is busy trading cars today. "We have three parking lots full of cars over here." And a little later: "That Maserati, can I come and pick that up?"

Around the same time, someone in Snizhne is filming the Buk driving south, in the direction of Pervomaysk, on its own. According to the JIT report, "at 2:07 p.m., Kharchenko orders Sharpov temporarily to guard 'the vehicle', and then goes to meet Gilazov (another rebel) at Furshet supermarket himself."

At that point, Dubinsky is in Donetsk, on the phone talking to other commanders about operations at other locations on the front. At 4:19 p.m., a missile is launched from the field near Snizhne. A little under a minute later, it explodes next to the cockpit of flight MH17. Not long after that, reports appear on social media about a missile and explosions.

Nearly half an hour later, Kharchenko reports to Dubinsky that they have downed a Ukrainian combat aircraft: "We are on the spot. We have already brought down a 'Sushka'. Dubinsky: "Well done, big guys! A 'Sushka'! Well done." But Dubinsky's thoughts are elsewhere, and he immediately switches to what is bothering him: "Lonya, tell me, have I ever done any -flicking-g thing to hurt you? -flick-!"

Dubinsky is furious about a bunch of armed men outside his door: "I don't know why I myself or my security haven't gunned them down, what a cock-up!" Once he is done raging, he orders Kharchenko to return to Donetsk: "You leave a battalion behind to guard the Buk, and then you will probably come this way. ( ) and Gyurza will come this way too. I'll call you right back." Kharchenko: "Understood, sir."

Less than 30 minutes later, the two men have further contact. Kharchenko reports artillery bombardments near Marinovka. "Did you put the Buk well in place? Will it not be shot to pieces?" Dubinsky wants to know. "No, they can't reach it. We are out of their reach anyway."

An hour later, Dubinsky calls a unit in the northern area controlled by the separatists. Botsman: "A place has been downed here near me. I'm on my way to the boxes now." Dubinsky has no idea what Botsman is talking about and repeats Kharchenko's claim that they have downed a Ukrainian combat aircraft. "We have now also brought down an aircraft, a Sushka", says Dubinsky. "The enemy is trying to break through", but "thank god, the BUK-M arrived this morning, so it's easier now."

He also expects support from Russia. The Ukrainian army is close to the Russian border and is striking at the separatists in Marinovka from that position. "Now we wait for the Russians who should be firing at their position from that end."

Two hours later, Dubinsky still does not know what has really happened. That becomes clear from a conversation with someone who indicates that he is being bombarded by journalists with questions about a downed Boeing.

John Doe: "I am getting calls from journalists telling me that a Boeing has been shot south of Donetsk." Dubinsky: "Is there a fight going on?" (Dubinsky probably mistakes 'Boeing' for 'boj', the Russian word for fight) John Doe: "Boeing! There's been a plane crash." Dubinsky: "Ah, our people have brought one down over Savur-Mohyla, near Marinovka, our people have brought down a 'Sushka'."

It still hasn't dawned on the commander of the whole operation that, two hours earlier, flight MH17 was downed, with 298 casualties. Shortly thereafter, he gets a phone call from the assistant to Girkin, the Minister of Defense, ordering him to report immediately. On his way to the meeting, he calls his girlfriend, who is cooking dinner. He can't make it. "It's boring with daddy not there, isn't it?"

After the tête-a-tête at Girkin's office, Dubinsky is suddenly worried about what has transpired. Around 8:00 p.m., he calls his deputy Pulatov. He wants to have clarity about who has shot what. Dubinsky: "Tell me, did or did not our BUK fire?" Pulatov: "The Buk has brought down a 'Sushka'." Dubinsky: "So..." Pulatov: "But before that, the 'Sushka' downed the Boeing. They tried to blame us for that."

Dubinsky: "So that 'Sushka' blew it to pieces, right?" Pulatov: "Yes, yes, yes." Dubinsky: "Understood. Did you see that, were you observing that?" Pulatov: "They observed that from the ground." ( ) Pulatov: "The 'Sushka' hit the Boeing. They saw that from Snezhnoye. After that, the 'Sushka' carried on, and the Buk blew it to shreds."

Two minutes later, Dubinsky repeats this story to his boss, Igor Girkin. The Minister of Defense of the separatists, addressed by Dubinsky by call sign Number One. Dubinsky: "So, here's what happened. A 'Sushka' hit a -flicking-g Boeing. After that, the 'Sushka', as it was on its second round, was brought down by our BUK. And lots and lots of our people saw that. Gyurza just reported that."

Girkin: "Ah, so that's what happened. Understood." Dubinsky: "The 'Sushka' blew the Boeing to pieces, and our people blew the Sushka to pieces." Girkin: "Aha." Dubinsky: "That's good news, isn't it?" Girkin: "Well, I'm not sure. I don't think so, really." Dubinsky: "Well, they are going to blame us anyway, for blowing that thing to pieces."

Not much later, Pulatov and Kharchenko both call from the MH17 crash site. Dubinsky himself now also seems to question the story that his subordinates have reported to him. When Kharchenko calls from the crash site asking if they should give the OSCE access, Dubinsky also asks him who has downed the Boeing: "You did observe that it was brought down by a 'Sushka', or was it ours after all?"

Kharchenko "Not ours, Nikolayevich, not ours." Dubinsky: "So a 'Sushka' then? And then after that, the 'Sushka' brought down by our Buk, right?" Kharchenko: "Yes, first there was a bang up there, and then there was our bang."

It was a Ukrainian combat aircraft; that's also what the separatists keep telling each other. They lay the foundation for the story that, a few days later, will also be officially embraced by the Russian Ministry of Defense. It will soon become clear that the evidence submitted by the Ministry in that respect is false. Russia will later switch to a different theory: flight MH17 has not been downed by the separatists, but by a Buk from the Ukrainian army.

At 8:30 p.m., five hours after flight MH17, Dubinsky calls Girkin. The Minister instructs him to take the 'box' to the border with the neighboring Lugansk region. Dubinsky and his men control a large part of the Donetsk region, but the only route to Russia leads through the Lugansk region, which is controlled by other rebel forces.

Meanwhile, Kharchenko reports that the 'box' has left the launch site on its own and is headed for Snizhne. A town not far from the launch site. At 10:30 p.m. he calls Dubinsky again. Kharchenko: "Where does it go, where should I escort it to?" Dubinsky: "Up to the border with the Lugansk region." Kharchenko: "Aha." Dubinsky: "And then that's it. Clear?"

But 45 minutes later, the Buk is still in Snizhne, at less than 10 km from the original launch site: "They don't know the way, nobody knows anything."

Friday, 18 July 2014

After midnight, the two leaders have completely lost sight of the Buk, and the Minister of Defense Girkin is getting edgy. Dubinsky can't get a hold of his people on the phone, and rumor has it that they are no longer driving in the direction of Russia, but are, in fact, coming back. "Do whatever you -flicking-g want, but make sure they go back and transfer the device where they were told", demands Girkin. He gives them the number of someone named 'Leshy', a Lugansk separatist who was supposed to accompany the transport. In the course of the evening, Dubinsky tries to call that number a total of seven times, but without success.

Girkin gets impatient, and six minutes later calls again. When Dubinsky tells him that there is no answer, Girkin shouts: "Get in the car and hurry over there, that's all I can tell you." Dubinsky: "But then I get to Snizhne, and where am I supposed to look for them? I don't -flicking-g know." It is not until around 8:00 the next morning that Dubinsky learns that the Buk has been delivered in Russia: "What the -flick- was that about yesterday?" "The machine is in Russia", answers Kharchenko.

Dubinsky immediately calls his boss Girkin. He implies that he has carried out his boss's orders and has driven to Snizhne. "I just got -flicking-g back. Everything was okay over there." Dubinsky repeats what Kharchenko has told him. "The machine was already in Russia; he immediately transferred the -flicking-g thing." But Girkin's sources tell him that the transfer has failed. Dubinsky then calls again and Kharchenko repeats that the 'machine' is in Russia. Kharchenko: "I've just got off the phone with them. They are already getting another machine from Russia."

But to be absolutely sure, Dubinsky himself then calls Bibliotekar, the man who has accompanied all the transports. Dubinsky: "Listen, did our people transfer a box to you last night?" Bibliotekar: "I took her away, she's over there." Dubinsky then calls his boss Girkin again. Dubinsky: "Bibliotekar personally took her there, and he is already towing something else for us this way." The Buk has finally arrived in Russia.

At 10:50 that morning, Dubinsky receives one last call on this number about flight MH17. The OSCE wants to bring Ukrainian aircraft experts to the crash site and is Dubinsky okay with that? "Let them go, I've already got the boxes anyway," says Dubinsky, "one yesterday evening, and we found another one last night. I'm not sure, maybe there are four of them, but we've already got two." And then he moves on to the day's agenda. Sanych calls about a blind drunk separatist who has been firing his automatic gun at stalls. "We're going to get him now and shoot him. We've already got a place prepared."

Around noon, Dubinsky reports to the political leaders that a terrorist group will be arrested the next day: "I told him that it is very essential that they are still alive when they are picked up, because they have to make statements, etc., so that he will not present us with any dead bodies, you see?"

Then the tapped number goes quiet. Dubinsky switches to a new number. That number is tapped as well, but there is no more talk of MH17 or any Buk. The commander focuses on the battle of Marinovka again. The whole MH17 episode seems to be closed as far as he is concerned. The war demands his attention again.

Other sources in English:
Thousands of secret MH17 tapes provide insight into the situation before, during and after the disaster
MH17 suspect tapes show planning behind BUK missile move -

Coverage in Dutch:

Audiotapes van duizenden afgeluisterde gesprekken, een reconstructie van de MH17-ramp
Verantwoording MH17-reconstructie Nieuwsuur

Duizenden geheime MH17-tapes geven inzicht in situatie voor, tijdens en na ramp
Afgeluisterde telefoongesprekken: verdachte MH17 wist niet van neerhalen Boeing


The Living Force
Source (Dutch only): MH17-nabestaanden dienen schadeclaims in bij verdachten

MH17 survivors submit damage claims to defendants

Gratuity money The relatives of the victims of the MH17 disaster demand that the defendants on trial pay gratuity money for the intangible damage they suffered.

Thomas Borst - April 15, 2021 at 17:33

The relatives of the MH17 victims demand that the defendants on trial for the shooting down of the plane pay compensation. The lawyers of 290 surviving relatives submitted a damage claim of between 40,000 and 50,000 euros per victim at the hearing on Thursday. The legal aid team of the surviving relatives requested the court to hold the four suspects personally liable.

The lawyers of the next of kin filed the damage claims to compensate for the immaterial damage suffered. "No compensation is proportional to their loss, but it can give a sense of recognition," said lawyer Arlette Schijns on behalf of the next of kin. According to Schijns, the next of kin will not file a claim for the material damage, "in order not to further burden the course of this trial."

Legally, only parents, children and immediate family members of the victims may file a claim for damages. Attorney Schijns stated that the "emotional bank accounts of many surviving relatives are still deeply in the red." Some 240 siblings who were not yet part of the family on the day of the disaster - July 17, 2014 - are not eligible for compensation.

Civil proceedings

Sabine van Doesschate, the lawyer of defendant Oleg Pulatov, stated in response that the claims do not belong within the criminal proceedings. Because a Dutch court is hearing the case, her suspect Pulatov has Russian nationality, and the plane crashed in Ukraine, a specialized civil court must hear the claim in civil proceedings. In addition to Pulatov, Russians Igor Girkin and Sergei Doebinsky and Ukrainian Leonid Chartjenko are also on trial. The MH17 trial is in its preliminary phase. It is likely that the substantive hearing will follow in the summer.

In July 2014, the Malaysia Airlines plane was shot out of the sky. In the process, all 298 occupants - including 196 Dutch - were killed. According to the prosecution, this was done with a Buk missile, originating from Russia. The plane was en route from Schiphol Airport to Kuala Lumpur and was hit in eastern Ukraine, where a conflict was raging at the time between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces.

Translated with (free version)

Similar coverage in Dutch:
Nabestaanden MH17 willen smartegeld van verdachten


The Living Force
Source (Dutch only):

MH17 trial: court wants to see wreckage of plane for themselves

The judges in the MH17 trial want to see the wreckage of flight MH17 with their own eyes in order to assess the damage to the aircraft. The court will carry out this so-called inspection on May 26. The reconstruction of part of the plane has been in a shed at Gilze-Rijen military airbase for years.

Cyril Rosman 16-04-21, 16:18 Last update: 16:38

The court announced that this afternoon during an interim hearing in the MH17 trial. The plane was shot down over war zones in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. All 298 occupants, including 193 Dutch nationals, died in the crash.The trial is prosecuting three Russians and one Ukrainian, who had a leading role with the pro-Russian separatists who allegedly shot the plane out of the sky with a BUK missile.

We think our own observation is necessary. We want a good picture of the damage.
Hendrik Steenhuis, Judge

Impact Damage

Part of the cockpit of MH17 has been reconstructed in the hangar. Parts of the left wing and the tail section are also stored there. The used wreckage parts reveal the damage caused by the BUK impact. The wreckage has been used in various investigations into the cause of the crash because it provides information on, among other things, what kind of missile was used and from which location it was supposedly fired. The court now wants to see exactly where that impact occurred and in which areas of the aircraft it was greater and lesser. ,,We think our own observation is necessary. We want a good picture of the damage," said Judge Hendrik Steenhuis.

The Public Prosecutor's Office urged the court yesterday to go and see for itself. Partly because there is a difference of opinion between some experts about the conclusion that should be drawn from the wreckage. Experts from the Netherlands Aerospace Center and the Royal Military Academy in Brussels support the prosecution's theory that MH17 was hit by a BUK and agree on the firing location.

Russian company

An expert from Almaz Antey, the Russian company that makes the BUK missiles, has doubts about this and indicates that the projectile may have been fired from a wider area. That location is important in determining who fired the missile: pro-Russian rebels or (as Russia once stated) the Ukrainian military. "We would find it undesirable if everyone in that discussion has seen that distance on the reconstruction itself in person - all the experts, all the counsels and all the prosecutors - except your court, while you are now making the decisions," the prosecutor stated yesterday.

The OM also expects another discussion about the different spots on the plane where damage can be seen: "We are still going to discuss in this room the significance of the distance between the area with the most damage and some impacts much further away, in the engine and the left wing, while between those two areas there is a large zone with no impacts."

Expert is sick

Since the beginning of the trial, the lawyers of one of the defendants, Oleg Pulatov, have also been asking for such a survey of the aircraft. They wanted to take another look at the damage together with an expert. However, that expert has withdrawn for health reasons. The lawyers also want to see more wreckage than is currently present in the hangar.

Translated with (free version)

Other coverage in Dutch:
Rechter wil zelf wrakstukken van MH17 bekijken
Nabestaande Ria blogt over het MH17-proces: 'Wat een ongelofelijk gemaakte act'


The Living Force
Source (Dutch only): Geen aparte zaak voor schadeclaims MH17-nabestaanden

NOS News - Interior - today, 15:39
No separate trial for MH17 survivors' claims for damages

The damage claims of surviving relatives of the MH17 disaster will be dealt with during the regular proceedings. A separate trial is not necessary, the court has decided.

Almost 300 surviving relatives are demanding compensation from the suspects on trial for the downing of the plane. The sum involved is several tens of thousands of euros per individual. A total amount has not been disclosed, but it certainly concerns many millions of euros.

The lawyers of one of the suspects wanted to keep the request for compensation outside of the MH17 trial. They feel that the handling of the case is too complicated and that it will cause a lot of delay in the trial. The defense asked the court last week to opt for a separate procedure.

But the court does not consider this necessary, because the MH17 case is already extensive and the damage claims will not easily "overshadow" the proceedings. Moreover, the next of kin have opted for fixed amounts, which makes their claims relatively straightforward.

Furthermore, the court determined that the defense in the MH17 trial should receive a number of tap conversations that are currently not in the file. Recently Nieuwsuur turned out to have a large number of conversations in their possession. According to the lawyers, these tapes may be relevant to their client. The Public Prosecution does not have to go looking for all the material, but it does have to provide some of the audio.

In a month's time, the judges will go and inspect the MH17 wreckage for themselves. Those are on display at the Gilze-Rijen airbase. A temporary courtroom will be set up there that day.

From June, the case against the four suspects will be substantively heard. The file will then be discussed in public. At the same time, additional research is being conducted, but that is relatively limited according to the court.

Next of kin will have their say in September. It is not yet known when the Public Prosecutor's Office will make its punishment demands.

Flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine in the summer of 2014, where Russian-backed separatists were fighting the Ukrainian government army. The prosecution assumes that the separatists hit the Malaysia Airlines plane with a Russian Buk missile.

All 298 occupants were killed, including 196 Dutch nationals. The prosecution is prosecuting four men allegedly involved in shooting down the plane, three Russians and a Ukrainian.

Translated with (free version)


FOTCM Member
Archiving a SOTT rendering of a John Helmer article (Thu, 15 Apr 2021 09:32 UTC} analyzing the latest developments in the MH17 trial:

Dutch state leaks expose MH17 trial outlaws, starting with the investigating judge in hiding --
John continues from the April 15th article here:


Last Thursday and Friday, April 15 and 16, Manon Ridderbeks and Thijs Berger for The Netherlands Public Prosecutor’s Office presented a detailed reply to the new round of defence presentations by ten Doesschate. The prosecution has released the videotape recordings and also the texts at this link.

The defence lawyers also read from scripts in court. However, they continue to keep them secret without explanation. They refuse to answer press questions.

Ridderbeks’s career and her involvement in the MH17 case can be followed here. According to leaked documents from the prosecution files, she has been working in the MH17 investigation since 2014; she has had special responsibility for collaboration with the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) in Kiev to obtain witness testimony and telephone tapes. Before that, Ridderbeks served as a colonial administrator in the Dutch Caribbean islands. Her role in the MH17 case became public at the end of July 2020 when she replaced Dedy Woei-A-Tsoi in the courtroom.

Berger came to the MH17 case from the Dutch government’s war crimes unit. The only war crimes he has prosecuted are those alleged against Serbians and Afghans fighting against NATO invasion forces.

The new presentation by Ridderbeks confirms that the investigating judge (“Judge Commissioner”, Rechter-Commissaris ) in the MH17 trial is playing the decisive role in the case, not the presiding judge Henrik Steenhuis. Ridderbeks confirms the superior judge is a woman. “The Judge-Commissioner did not indicate in the first reports of progress when she expects to complete the various parts of her investigation.” The rulings of this judge, taken in secret, have determined that the SBU witness, audio and videotape evidence is admissible. She has also ruled that there is no evidence of witness coercion or corruption, and no tape tampering or faking.

This judge has also rejected all attempts by the defence lawyers to challenge the credibility or conflicts of interest of the expert witnesses presented so far from Dutch state institutions such as the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) and the Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR). In his rulings, Steenhuis has followed the investigating judge’s orders. These have been transmitted to the court, according to Berger’s court presentation on Friday, by email and letter.

The defence lawyers know the name and background of this woman; they are keeping the details secret, although Dutch law does not require them to do so. Dutch court sources who also know these details admit they are too frightened of official punishment if they leak the information.


The Living Force
Thanks Voyageur for keeping an eye on John Helmer's activities and reporting them back here. I noticed that SOTT hasn't yet carried this follow-up article.


The Living Force
Source (Dutch only): Rechters in strafzaak MH17 kijken zelf bij wrak naar inslagen Buk-raket

NOS News - Domestic - Foreign - today, 10:10
Judges in MH17 criminal case look themselves at wreckage for impacts of Buk missile


The hangar at Gilze-Rijen Air Base containing the wreckage of flight MH17 - Image: NOS

Today, Judges in the criminal proceedings against the defendants in the MH17 case are viewing the wreckage of the plane that was shot down. The hours-long viewing is at the Gilze-Rijen Air Base, where the reconstruction is located that was made with the debris from the front of the plane. There are also other pieces of wreckage there.

According to the prosecution, the debris points to an impact of a Russian Buk missile from a field in eastern Ukraine. At the time, that area was under the control of rebels fighting for independence with the support of Russia.

<short video clip (1:00 min.) omitted>

The lawyers for one of the defendants have stressed in the hearings that have taken place so far, that other theories should also be looked at. They hold it possible that the MH17 airplane was shot out of the sky by another aircraft. It has also been suggested that the Buk was fired from a completely different place. That could be a place where Ukrainian government forces were in control at the time.

Better assessment

The judges are now forming their own impressions of the impacts. They are examining the wreckage with an aerial platform, among other things. According to reporter Mattijs van de Wiel, they think they can better assess the statements of experts and witnesses once they have seen the wreckage themselves. You can watch the livestream of the court here.

Partly due to the corona measures, only a limited number of people can be present at the viewing. Apart from the judges and representatives of the Public Prosecutor's Office, two lawyers of the Russian suspect Oleg Pulatov and two lawyers of the surviving relatives are present.

continued... (with rehash of old news}

Translated with (free version)

Other coverage in Dutch:
MH17-rechtbank schouwt het vliegtuig dat zijn bestemming nooit bereikte


The Living Force
Source (Dutch only): Monsterproces MH17 gaat nieuwe fase in: 'Het is tijd voor antwoorden'
(two photographs omitted)

Five questions
MH17 monster trial enters new phase: 'It's time for answers'

06 June 2021 09:28 AM Updated: 06 June 2021 09:52 AM

Tomorrow the substantive hearing of the criminal case against the four men suspected of involvement in the downing of flight MH17 will begin in the maximum security court at Schiphol Airport. All occupants of this flight lost their lives. Five questions and answers about the case.

1. What is in store for us in the coming period?

For over a year, there were several preliminary hearings and, last month, also a viewing of the reconstruction of the aircraft, at the army base in Gilze-Rijen. Tomorrow the substantive hearing begins. "The trial thus enters a new phase," says reporter Rik Konijnenbelt, who follows the case for RTL News.

"This is the chance for the only suspect who is represented by lawyers, to defend himself. It's time for answers and they have to come from this defendant. On Monday, procedural matters will be discussed. Starting Tuesday, it's about substance. Was it really a BUK missile that shot down flight MH17? What was the firing location? And what was the exact role of the four suspects?"

The investigation file comprises over 40,000 pages. That's more than a hundred binders. The file also contains references to thousands of multimedia files such as photos, videos and websites.

2. Are any new facts expected?

Probably yes, but it will not be this week.

"In the week after next, the Public Prosecutor's Office will have its say," says Konijnenbelt. "They will then come up with evidence that will substantiate the case bit by bit. It is expected that they will also come up with details that they have not disclosed up until now."

3. What about the defendants? Will they show up in court?

The Prosecutor's Office is currently prosecuting four men for their possible involvement in the downing of the aircraft. They are rebel leader Igor Girkin, his right-hand man Sergei Dubinsky, his assistant Oleg Pulatov and garrison commander Leonid Khartshenko.

They will not be seen in court. "That's the regrettable thing about this case," says Konijnenbelt. "Unfortunate for the court and the prosecutor's office, but especially for the relatives. Only Oleg Pulatov is represented by lawyers. There are also no indications of his presence via a video link. That might not be ideal, but it would give the court the opportunity to ask questions directly."

Pulatov is represented by counselors Boudewijn van Eijck and Sabine ten Doesschate. They are working with a Russian lawyer.

"Pulatov is the only one who is defending himself in court. We don't know what his motives are. Probably he wants to prove his innocence, but we don't know for sure."

4. How will the substantive hearing go for the next of kin?

Konijnenbelt: "I can imagine that it will be a tough period for the surviving relatives anyway. Pulatov's lawyers have said they will do everything they can for their client, even though they respect the pain and sorrow of the surviving family members. Matters that are certain for the next of kin can be flatly denied in court. That will be painful for the next of kin."

5. And then after two weeks it is over?

The process will last well into 2022 anyway. "The planning is that the relatives will have their say in September. Then the prosecutor starts the indictment in November and the defense gets the chance to respond in the spring."

It is expected that several dozen surviving relatives will want to make use of the right to speak in September.

Translated with (free version)

Source (Dutch only): Nabestaanden MH17 protesteren opnieuw: 298 lege stoelen voor Russische ambassade

NOS News - Domestic - today, 14:20
Relatives MH17 protest again: 298 empty chairs in front of Russian embassy


These are the 298 seats of people 'who can no longer talk'

Bereaved families of the MH17 disaster have once again placed 298 empty chairs in front of the Russian embassy in The Hague this morning. The next of kin, united in the group Truth Finding MH17, believe that the country is not being open enough about its involvement in the air disaster. The chairs are in an airplane formation, one chair for each victim.

The group also delivered a letter for President Putin to the embassy. "Surely with such a proud country there must be time to acknowledge lesser things," says survivor Hans de Borst. "You commit a mass murder, accidental or not, and then you just walk away. We cannot accept that."

This is the fourth time the chairs have been put up to draw attention to the criminal trial. "And they might be there ten more times, I don't know," says De Borst.

Tomorrow the substantive hearing against four defendants, three Russians and a Ukrainian, begins. Russia has maintained for years that it was not responsible for the shooting down of MH17.

<short video-clip (0:45 min) omitted>


FOTCM Member
Source (Dutch only): Monsterproces MH17 gaat nieuwe fase in: 'Het is tijd voor antwoorden'
(two photographs omitted)


"Pulatov is the only one who is defending himself in court. We don't know what his motives are. Probably he wants to prove his innocence, but we don't know for sure."
What a farce. They prosecute four Russians in abstentia; then, when one of them actually bothers to engage this kangaroo court to defend himself, they question his motives!

The only thing this MH17 'trial' has to with Russia is that it's a show-trial in the best Stalinist tradition.


The Living Force
Understandably, reports of today's proceedings are scarce, rather superficial and Dutch only. Most sources give a repeat in English of the announcement of the trial resuming as published above. Here are a few examples:

MH17 trial resumes for three days of hearings, focusing on the evidence -
MH17 trial continues with first substantive hearing on Monday
MH17 trial moves to crucial merits phase, examining evidence

The most informative report is in two parts and other sources display slightly different variants.

Source (Dutch only): Drie vragen staan centraal bij start inhoudelijke behandeling MH17-proces
MH17 trial
NOS News - Domestic - today, 07:12 AM
Three questions will be central to the start of the substantive MH17 trial

After 25 preliminary hearings, the substantive hearing of the MH17 trial begins today in the court at Schiphol Airport. During this new phase of the trial the evidence against the four suspects will be examined in more detail.

The trial will be held without the suspects being present. They are in all likelihood in Russia and would be arrested immediately in the Netherlands. Only one of them is represented in court by lawyers.

The court has formulated three questions to be answered in the coming period.

The first question is: was flight MH17 shot down with a BUK missile in 2014? The prosecution sees more than enough evidence that the plane was shot down with this particular Russian-made missile. The defense has unsuccessfully argued for investigation into a number of alternative scenarios.

The second question: was a BUK missile fired from rebel territory in eastern Ukraine? The prosecution points to a specific field as the place where the missile in question was fired; the defense has doubts about this.

Put down secretly

The final question is whether the four suspects played a role in all this. The prosecution believes that they were militarily active with the separatists at the time and ensured that the BUK installation was secretly placed in the combat zone. However, in wiretapped telephone conversations that the prosecution uses as evidence, one of the suspects says they deliberately uttered nonsense to mislead the enemy.

According to the dossier, the suspects are not the men who pressed the launch button, nor the men who gave the order to shoot at the passenger plane. Who are responsible for this is still unclear.


Three Russians and a Ukrainian are on trial on suspicion of killing all 298 occupants of the Malaysia Airlines plane. The plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine seven years ago. The government army there was fighting separatists backed by Russia at the time. Multiple investigations indicate that the plane was shot down with a BUK missile. Most of the victims were Dutch.

Today the court will tell how the approximately 40,000-page dossier will be summarized in the coming days. The court will also look back at the hearings of two weeks ago. The judges then went to see the wreckage of the plane for themselves.

It is expected that the court will actually start going through the file tomorrow. Later this month, the Public Prosecution Service and the defense may also bring to the attention of the court any documents they consider important.

In September, relatives of the 298 victims will be given the floor. Over 70 people have indicated that they want to speak.

It is not yet known when the trial against the four suspects will end. For the time being, the MH17 case has been set aside until November.

Translated with (free version)

Source (Dutch only): Rechtbank opereert voorzichtig bij bespreken MH17-bewijs

NOS News - Domestic - today, 14:04 - Updated today, 14:19
Court operates cautiously while discussing MH17 evidence

The start of the substantive hearing of the MH17 trial this morning showed a cautious court. The judges emphasized several times that they will not pass any judgment on the contents of the case in the coming days.

Starting tomorrow, the court will discuss the evidence that is on file against the four suspects in the case. They are alleged to have brought a BUK missile into eastern Ukraine from Russia in the summer of 2014 and to have removed the weapon again after the MH17 was shot down.

"What the court is discussing are the results and conclusions of the international investigation team," said court president Steenhuis. He stressed several times that in doing so, the judges are not making any advance judgment.

The court will outline how the investigation team came to the conclusion that flight MH17 was hit by a BUK missile in the 65,000-page file. But also what alternative scenarios were examined. The main purpose of this is to let the outside world know what is in the dossier so that they can follow the case more closely.

The court will not yet comment on the conclusions of the investigation team.

Tap conversations will also be discussed, in which, according to the prosecution, the suspects can be heard. The court will not comment on those either in the coming days.

Today's explanation shows how the court in the internationally sensitive MH17 case tries to avoid any appearance of bias. The message of the judges was: if we advocate something during the hearing of the case, it is not because we think so ourselves. Only in the verdict does the court give its opinion.

According to Marieke de Hoon, international criminal law expert at the Free University of Amsterdam, the explanation was intended to ensure a fair trial. "Many people find it strange that Russians are on trial in the Netherlands for something that happened in Ukraine. Therefore you have to involve them in the course of the trial, so that when a verdict is handed down they know that everything was done fairly."

Satellite images

Additional investigations into the downing of the MH17 are currently underway behind the scenes. The court reported today that it has not been possible to obtain American satellite images, which would show how a BUK missile was launched in the area at the time.

The Americans sent a memo about this in 2016, but say they cannot share the images themselves to protect their intelligence sources.

It also emerged today that 299 claims for compensation have now been submitted by relatives. These consist of a fixed amount of 40,000 to 50,000 euros per victim. The court will also have to rule on this.

Translated with (free version)

Other coverage in Dutch:
Het MH17-proces gaat zeker tot 2022 duren – en zal niet alles ophelderen
’Spookproces’ MH17 eindelijk van start: verdachtenbankje leeg, grote belangstelling


The Living Force
Today's proceedings are not yet covered neither in Dutch nor in English. We'll have to wait until tomorrow, I guess.

Meanwhile, Dutch news (propaganda) media are setting the scene with years old news from anonymous sources:

Russian hackers accessed Dutch police system in 2017: Volkskrant -

Russian hackers accessed Dutch police system in 2017: Volkskrant​

June 8, 2021

Hackers allied to the Russian security service SVR were able to get into the Dutch police system in 2017 while the investigation into the downing of flight MH17 was underway, the Volkskrant said on Tuesday [in Dutch; behind pay wall].

The hack was not noticed by the police, but did come to light thanks to information from the Dutch security service AIVD, the paper said.

The hack led to ‘major panic’ because of the MH17 probe, the paper said. It bases the claim on conversations with people close to the incident, but the police and AIVD have declined to either confirm or deny the hack.

In July 2017, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Belgium, Australia and Malaysia agreed to start legal action against the people they suspected of involvement in shooting down the plane in a Dutch court.

Russia has consistently denied any involvement and, the Volkskrant said, has used a wide range of tools to discredit the investigation, including hacking official organizations and espionage.

The hack identified by the AIVD via its own hacking networks, stemmed from the Dutch IP address of a police academy server, the sources told the paper.

‘Traces of the hackers were found in several different places,’ the Volkskrant said, quoting four sources.

As yet, it is not clear if the hackers were able to access any information relevant to the MH17 investigation, or what information they were able to obtain, the paper said.

Similar coverage in English:
Russia hacked Dutch police systems in 2017: report

Coverage in Dutch:
De Russen kwamen binnen bij de politie, en de achterdeur zit nog altijd niet stevig dicht
'Russen zaten in 2017 in Nederlandse politiesystemen'
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