24 january / 2019

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova's comments on the Russia's cooperation with Australia and the Netherlands in the MH17 crash investigation

A question was asked about Russia’s cooperation with Australia and the Netherlands, which, without waiting for the criminal investigation of the Joint Investigation Group (JIG) to come to an end, are trying to impose responsibility for the MH17 crash on Russia. To reiterate, the issue was about possible trilateral consultations between Russia, on the one hand, and Australia and the Netherlands, on the other hand, which we agreed to hold in the near future, with the understanding that they would focus on the entire range of issues related to the downing of the plane in Ukraine.

I want to stress once again that Russia then agreed to hold consultations with the Netherlands and Australia on this matter. This is a fundamentally important point.

As is known, representatives of these countries have repeatedly tried to groundlessly accuse Russia of refusing to cooperate, although, in reality, our country not only showed its willingness to interact with the Netherlands, Australia and the JIG, but also made a specific contribution to establishing the truth with regard to the tragedy that played out in the skies over Ukraine on July 17, 2014.

I would like to draw your attention to a very detailed and thorough interview that Deputy Prosecutor General of Russia Nikolay Vinnichenko gave to RIA Novosti on Monday. (link to the interview)

In his interview, he confirmed that Russia cooperated with the Netherlands through their respective prosecutor general’s offices, provided all available information, responded to all JIG requests and made a vast amount of crucial data available to international investigators. Notably, it includes information on Russian military equipment, which was declassified specifically for this purpose, as well as primary radar data and documents proving the Ukrainian origin of the missile that shot down flight MH17.

What is going on in the Netherlands at this point? While they demand that Russia provide answers to investigators’ questions, which appear to have been fully answered by Russia, the Dutch authorities flatly refuse to divulge their classified information that could be of use to investigators.

Litigation between the three Dutch editions and the government of the Netherlands has lasted since 2015. Journalists have gone to court as they tried to force their authorities to provide the public and the investigators with transcripts of the cabinet meetings on the crash of MH17, as well as meetings with experts who evaluated the work of the Dutch authorities in the days following the disaster.

The government of the Netherlands chose not to do this voluntarily. Last week, the Netherlands Council of State - the highest judicial body vested with the powers of the Constitutional court - put an end to this case by completely siding with the government. According to the Council of State’s decision, these materials can now not be disclosed at all. What about transparency? What about the transparency of the investigation into the Malaysian airliner crash? What about freedom of speech? What about the rights of the journalists and the media to obtain the data, materials and information regarding the tragedy, which brought together a number of countries? Aren’t we witnessing an attempt by the Dutch government to hide everything that does not support the official version of the MH17 crash?