Investigators name two Russian speakers in connection with MH17 tragedy

It was the first time that individuals have been named in relation to the 2014 attack in which a Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down.
This photo from July 19, 2014, shows rescue forces carrying bodies of passengers at the MH17 crash site. Anastasia Vlasova/EPA
This photo from July 19, 2014, shows rescue forces carrying bodies of passengers at the MH17 crash site. Anastasia Vlasova/EPA

THE HAGUE // Dutch prosecutors released the names of two Russian-speaking men in connection with the 2014 downing of Flight MH17 on Wednesday – the first time individuals have been named in relation to the attack.

It came hours after investigators said that the missile responsible for shooting down the Malaysia Airlines plane had been transported from Russia.

The inquiry is “especially looking for more information” on two people, investigators said, hours after releasing a report into their initial criminal findings.

The men used the pseudonyms of “Orion” and “Delfin” but have been respectively identified as Andrey Ivanovich and Nikolay Fiodorovich.

It is the first time that the Dutch-led investigation, which also involves Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine, has named individuals in relation to the attack.

The inquiry team released five wiretapped conversations in Russian “in which these people participate”.

“There is no evidence that these calls are directly related to the shooting down of MH17”, but, investigators said, if people recognise the voices, know either of the individuals or have any “information concerning these people or their connection to the Buk (missile) that allegedly shot down MH17”, they should contact investigators immediately.

“If you are concerned about your safety, various protective measures can be taken,” the investigators promised.

English transcripts of the conversation show two men talking about a “convoy” moving in the direction of an airport, at Sabivka near Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.

The Boeing 777 passenger jet was brought down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in July 2014 on a routine flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 people on board including 196 Dutch citizens.

The inquiry team concluded on Wednesday that the missile responsible for shooting down the plane came from a battery that was transported from Russia across the border into Ukraine and taken back after the launch.

The preliminary findings also said that around 100 people are under investigation for playing “an active role” in the incident and confirmed that the missile was fired from a field which at the time was in territory held by pro-Moscow rebels battling Kiev.

Russia immediately described the report as “biased”, while Ukraine said it proved Moscow’s direct involvement in the tragedy.

The pro-Russian separatists have denied having fired the missile and possessing such a weapon altogether.

* Agence France-Presse

Published: September 29, 2016 04:00 AM

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