MOSCOW, December 24. /TASS/. Russia’s Investigative Committee has been analyzing evidence in the case of a Malaysian Boeing crash near the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk for a few months, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said Wednesday.
Markin was answering a question from TASS on the statement by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), which denied accusations that the Boeing had been downed by a Ukrainian Su-25 (NATO reporting name Frogfoot) close air support aircraft.
“Is the SBU surprised at our prompt response? We have been investigating the matter: finding and analyzing evidence for a few months, unlike Ukrainian and some Western politicians,” he said.
“We can’t compete with them in promptitude. When the wreckage of the passenger Boeing hardly hit the ground they unequivocally said the plane had been downed by militiamen and Russia. Look who’s lecturing us,” Markin said.
On July 17, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 passenger airliner on flight MH17 from the Dutch city of Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur crashed in the Donetsk Region in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. Most passengers — over 190 people — were Dutch nationals.
The Dutch Safety Board, which is leading the probe and coordinating the international team of investigators, said in its preliminary report published September 9 that “flight MH17 with a Boeing 777-200 operated by Malaysia Airlines broke up in the air probably as the result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside.”
A final report is due to be published within a year following the crash.
Earlier, the Investigative Committee spokesman said investigators have received evidence of involvement of a Ukrainian military aircraft in the Malaysian Boeing’s crash.
Russian investigators on Tuesday evening questioned a Ukrainian serviceman who earlier gave an interview to the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper on the Boeing crash. In line with his testimony, the Boeing 777 could have been shot down by a Su-25 of Ukraine’s Air Force flown by Ukraine Air Force pilot surnamed Voloshin.
The Ukrainian serviceman transferred by the Russian Investigative Committee to the category of a witness said he “personally saw Voloshin’s aircraft being equipped, before the flight, with R60 air-to-air missiles that Su-25 aircraft were not equipped with when making combat flights in ordinary conditions.”
The witness said he had been in the airport in the village of Aviatorskoye near the city of Dnepropetrovsk on the crash day and personally saw the Su-25 take off and land upon return.
“Approximately an hour prior to the Boeing crash, three Ukrainian close support aircraft took off, one of them was equipped with such missiles. It was a Su-25,” he told the newspaper.
The witness said that when the plane returned without missiles, the pilot was frightened and said: “The aircraft was wrong.” In the evening, when asked what happened to the Boeing, the pilot answered that “it happened to be in a wrong place at a wrong time.”
But the SBU said Voloshin had not flown on the day when the Boeing crashed in the Donetsk Region.
“Information on captain Voloshin is ungrounded. Aviation was not used at that time. The captain did not conduct any flights on that day, and his plane was undergoing maintenance,” advisor to the SBU head Markiyan Lubkovsky was quoted by Ukrainian media as saying.