June 16th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Reflections on the bicentenary of the birth of Karl Marx

EDITORIAL Significance of report into shooting down of MH17

CANBERRA OBSERVED Lee Rhiannon: too Bolshie or not Bolshie enough?

POLITICS Wading further through the Greens party bilge

ECONOMICS Vatican document nails some of the causes of the GFC

POLITICS Greens promise to keep Australia legally stoned and welfare dependent

ENVIRONMENT Scientist sacked for challenging claims of demise of Great Barrier Reef

REDEFINITION OF MARRIAGE Humpty Dumpty has his way with words

CHRISTIANITY AND SOCIETY Tradition, Christianity and the law in contemporary Australia

EDUCATION Ladybird, ladybird: adventures in literacy

OFFICE LAUNCH NCC Sydney: a new chapter in a continuing story

ASIAN AFFAIRS Indonesia takes religious syncretism to the nth degree

WA RALLY FOR LIFE 3300 crosses in Perth poignant reminders of abortions

HUMOUR News snippets

PHILOSOPHY Bendigo initiative

MUSIC Gain is loss: Where is there left to discover?

CINEMA 2001: A Space Odyssey: Unsurpassed 50 years on

BOOK REVIEW The house that could not stand

BOOK REVIEW Australia's first official war historian


EDITORIAL China's pivotal role in Trump-Kim summit

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Significance of report into shooting down of MH17

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, June 16, 2018

The latest report of the international commission investigating the downing of Malaysian Airline flight MH17 that killed nearly 300 people, of whom about 40 were Australian citizens or residents, in July 2014 has confirmed that the missile which shot down the airliner came from a Russian military unit, the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade, based in Kursk, Russia.

Kursk is a province of Russia that borders Eastern Ukraine, where Russia has been supporting pro-Russian separatists in a war to separate Eastern Ukraine from the rest of the country, and merge it with Russia.

From the time when the civilian airliner was shot down in 2014, there was very strong evidence that Russia was behind this terrorist act.

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which includes representatives from Holland (where most of the victims came from), Ukraine, Australia and Malaysia, has been involved in a meticulous investigation into the shooting down of the aircraft, with a view to prosecuting those responsible.

Russian separatists restricted access to the crash site in Eastern Ukraine for months, delaying the investigation of the cause of the crash.

Two years ago, an earlier report by the JIT said the evidence from the crash site indicated that the civilian aircraft had been shot down by a surface-to-air missile, and although it was suspected of being of Russian origin, Russia vehemently denied being involved.

The latest report confirms the suspicion, and identifies the unit – but not the individuals – who were responsible for the attack.

Russian response

The Russian government blamed Ukraine for the attack, first saying that it could prove that Ukrainian military aircraft were in the area and shot down the aircraft.

When this was shown to be untrue, Russia alleged that Ukraine, which became independent of Russia in 1991, had acquired the surface-to-air missile from the USSR, and had used it to shoot down the Malaysian airliner.

The JIT report contradicts this claim. It says: “Several images of the BUK-TELAR [missile] with which MH17 was downed are available.

“Analysis of those produces a number of characteristics. The combination of those is so special that that can be considered as a fingerprint. This fingerprint has been compared with numerous images of BUK-TELARS, both Ukrainian and Russian ones.

“The only BUK-TELAR on which this combination of characteristics also was found, is a BUK-TELAR that was recorded several times when it joined a convoy of the 53rd brigade on 23–25 June 2014.

“Consequently, the JIT presumes that within the 53rd brigade and within the circle around it, people have knowledge about the operation in which that particular BUK-TELAR was deployed and about the persons that were involved in it.

“Therefore, the JIT calls on insiders and eyewitnesses to share their information with the investigation team. Also, information about the instruction of the BUK-TELAR’s crew matters greatly for the criminal investigation.”

This is consistent with evidence released by the Ukrainian government in the days after the civilian airliner was shot down.

At the time, Ukraine claimed to have recorded telephone conversations between separatist fighters and their superiors, stating that the missile had been fired at an aircraft that they believed was a military aircraft. It even identified by name particular Russian military personnel and separatist activists involved in the intercepted phone calls.

The Russian government dismissed all of this evidence.

However, the JIT team said that approximately 150,000 intercepted telephone calls were listened in on, summarised and assessed for their relevance and authenticity. More than 3,500 inter­cepted conversations were processed entirely, translated and analysed.

These revelations show that the Russian government has been involved in criminal activity to pursue its political objectives.

In light of this, its claim that it was not involved in the poisoning of a former Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter in England in March cannot be believed.

Nor can we believe that it was not involved in the murder of a Russian dissident, Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned in England with radioactive polonium in 2006.

Nor can Russia be believed when it claimed that its occupation of Crimea in 2014 reflected the wishes of the Crimean people, and that it was not involved in the Ukrainian civil war.

Nor can it be believed that the Russian government has not attempted to interfere with elections in Western countries, including the United States, although there is no evidence that its interference affected the result of the last presidential election.

In every case, the pattern has been the same: blanket denial, failure to facilitate an independent inquiry, and blame another government (usually of the country where the event took place).

The JIT investigators have said that they have a lot more information on the event than they have publicly disclosed.

The latest update into the downing of MH17 shows that the investigation of the atrocity has not gone cold, but remains active.

Peter Westmore is publisher of News Weekly.

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April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm