Will Stewart in Moscow — Daily Mail Dec 6, 2014
A Russian newspaper has made a series of outlandish claims regarding the MH17 disaster, including that the plane was shot down in a botched bid by the Ukrainian air force to assassinate Vladimir Putin on the orders of a billionaire oligarch.
Pro-Kremlin outlets have long blamed MH17 on Ukraine, and have now taken it one step further and named a Ukranian army pilot they say is guilty of shooting down the plane.
A Russian newspaper and TV station claim oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi believed Putin would fly the route in his private jet, and ordered that the Russian President be assassinated by the Ukranian army.
The ludicrous claims are ‘proven’ by the fact that the pilot disappeared to Dubai with a glamorous air traffic controller after the MH17 disaster, the Russian news outlets claim.
The ‘Moment of Truth’ programme and Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper say both went on an ‘extended holiday’ immediately after the Boeing 777 was downed on 17 July, killing all 298 people on board.
This ‘investigation’ also makes the surprising claim that a Ukrainian billionaire – known as an enemy of Putin – masterminded the attack by the air force.
It claims that oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi received intelligence that the Kremlin president’s aircraft, known as Plane Number One, was due to overfly the region and land at Rostov-on-Don, and ordered what was to become the shooting down of the MH17.
This Russian city is close to the crash site. But, it is claimed, Putin’s route was changed and the last minute and he landed instead in Moscow.
The reports allege that Lt Col Dmitro Yakatsuts of elite 299 squadron in the Ukrainian air force piloted an Su-25 aircraft tailing MH17 but that he has since disappeared to Dubai.
They claim that air traffic controller Anna Petrenko, based in Dnepropetrovsk, was in charge of the Malaysian Airlines flight at the time of the crash, and that she has vanished to the same location.
‘No-one is searching for them. It is the first case in the world that an air traffic controller that was in charge of the crashed plane is urgently sent on holiday. She wasn’t even interrogated,’ claimed Karaulov.
The reports also alleged that the cockpit of the aircraft was hit by a 30mm cannon shot from the Su-25 plane.
Pieces of 30mm rounds were found in the bodies of the pilots, and that evidence of such a strike is visible in the nose fuselage of the Boeing, it was suggested.
The silhouettes of Putin’s Ilyushin and the Boeing were said to be similar.
One military expert Aleksandr Shirokorad even alleged the Boeing was hit twice – first by a rocket fired by the Su-25, and then with a surface-to-air missile from the Ukrainian side.
‘In my opinion, in the attack on the Boeing together by a (ground fired) anti-aircraft missile also involved an Su-25 military aircraft,’ he said.
Such attacks were used by the Soviet military machine, claimed Shirokorad, a doctor of military sciences.
‘It is a pure criminal story, it is the biggest military crime of the 21st century,’ alleged TV presenter Andrey Karaulov, claiming the pair’s exact whereabouts are now unknown.
It was not immediately possible to verify the claims, and Western experts have warned about Russian efforts to mask the true cause of the downing of the plane bound from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
Putin was flying back from a trip to Latin America on the day when the aircraft crashed in a region of Ukraine controlled by pro-Moscow separatist rebels.
It was previously stated that the flight paths of MH17 and Putin’s aircraft crossed over Poland – but 37 minutes apart.
There was no independent verification of any change in the president’s flight plan, or a routing involving Rostov-on-Don.
A Dutch-led probe into the calamity is expected to report next year but Western governments have claimed the plane was downed by rebels using a ground-based BUK missile system.
US sources have alleged the rebels were seeking to target a Ukrainian military aircraft but hit MH17 by mistake.