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Russia keeps insisting on probe into all circumstances of Malaysian Boeing crash

Russian diplomat Konstantin Dolgov declined to comment on new data in the press regarding this air crash

MOSCOW, December 24. /TASS/. Russia keeps insisting on investigation of all circumstances of the Malaysian Boeing crash in the Donetsk Region in eastern Ukraine in summer, a senior Russian diplomat said Wednesday when asked about the appearance of a new witness in the case.

“Our position remains unchanged. We speak for clarification of all circumstances of that tragedy, the reasons behind the Boeing’s crash,” the Russian Foreign Ministry’s commissioner for human rights, democracy and rule of law, Konstantin Dolgov, said on the Rossiya 24 TV channel.

Investigative Committee says new evidence exists in Boeing crash case

Earlier, Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin 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.

But the SBU said Voloshin had not flown on the day when the Boeing crashed in the Donetsk Region.

Markin said that “as the witness may be endangered, the investigation is considering granting him state protection under a witness protection program.” He said that if “representatives of the international commission investigating the air crash are interested in establishing the truth and turn to us, we are ready to provide [them with] all available materials.”

Dolgov voices concerns

Dolgov declined to comment on new data in the press regarding the air crash saying the case is being addressed by Russia’s Investigative Committee.

The diplomat also pointed to a lack of progress in investigation of a number of crimes committed in Ukraine this year, including the “snipers case” (when snipers were shooting at protesters and police in Kiev during riots in February) and the tragedy when people were burned alive in the Trade Unions House in the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa in May.

“We do not see grounds why a serious investigation could not be conducted. Numerous statements by Kiev officials were heard that foreign experts would be involved. Nothing of the kind has happened, no one has been punished,” Dolgov said.

“All this makes us think the Ukrainian authorities have something to hide,” he said.

Boeing crash

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.

Odessa tragedy

The southern Ukrainian city of Odessa saw riots on May 2, during which soccer fans from other cities, as well as Right Sector militants and so-called “Maidan self-defense” representatives from Kiev organized a march along city streets. Clashes with federalization supporters occurred during the march.

Radicals set ablaze the Trade Unions House, where their opponents hid, and a tent camp where activists were collecting signatures for a referendum on Ukraine’s federalization and for the status of a state language for Russian. The attackers did not let anyone leave the burning Trade Unions House building.

At least 48 people died and 247 were injured in the clashes and the fire in the Trade Unions House. Another 48 people were listed as missing. Some Ukrainian politicians asserted that the death toll reached 116 but that the Kiev authorities concealed the facts. Investigators have so far failed to name those guilty of the crime.

Ukrainian crisis

Ukraine has been in deep crisis since the end of last year, when then-President Viktor Yanukovich suspended the signing of an association agreement with the European Union to study the deal more thoroughly. The move triggered mass riots that eventually led to a coup in February 2014.

The coup that brought chaos to Ukraine prompted the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol with a special status to refuse to recognize the legitimacy of coup-imposed authorities, hold a referendum and secede from Ukraine to reunify with Russia in mid-March after some 60 years as part of Ukraine.

After that, mass protests erupted in Ukraine’s southeast, where local residents, apparently inspired by Crimea's example, did not recognize the coup-imposed authorities either, formed militias and started fighting for their rights.

Kiev’s military operation designed to regain control over the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk regions in Ukraine’s southeast on the border with Russia, which call themselves the Donetsk and Luhansk People's republics, has left thousands of people dead, brought destruction and forced hundreds of thousands to flee.

Businessman and politician PetroPoroshenko won the May 25 early presidential election in Ukraine. Poroshenko had funded anti-government protests that led to the February coup.

The parties to the intra-Ukrainian conflict agreed on a ceasefire during talks mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on September 5 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.

Numerous violations of the ceasefire, which took effect the same day, have been reported since.

A memorandum was adopted on September 19 in Minsk by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE. The document outlined the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5.

The nine-point memorandum in particular envisioned a ban on the use of all armaments and withdrawal of weapons with the calibers of over 100 millimeters to a distance of 15 kilometers from the contact line from each side. The OSCE was tasked with controlling the implementation of memorandum provisions.

A "day of silence" in eastern Ukraine began at 09:00 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) on December 9. It was seen as another attempt by both parties to the intra-Ukrainian conflict to put an end to hostilities.