Bellingcat @bellingcat Award-winning open source investigation. Want to donate? See here: Jul. 24, 2019 3 min read

The second episode of our MH17 podcast, "A Pack of Lies", is now out! You can listen to it through most every major podcast network, along with a direct link in our episode guide, found below: 

In this episode, we focus on the immediate Russian response to the downing of MH17, highlighting the now-infamous press conference held by their Ministry of Defense four days after the downing. Turns out, every major claim from this press conference was a lie. Bad ones, too.

Along with what he discussed in the podcast episode, you can check out a piece that one of our guests, @maxseddon, wrote right after this press conference here: 

The four major claims made by the Russian MoD about MH17 were:
1) MH17's flight path was diverted over the warzone
2) 2 Ukrainian fighter jets were near MH178
3) A Buk was filmed in Ukrainian-controlled territory, not Luhansk
4) Ukrainian Buks were deployed near Zaroshchenske

For the first claim -- Russia themselves later showed that this "flight path diversion" was a bad fake. All of their subsequent maps showing MH17's flight path since this press conference showed its actual path, without this fake path diversion they claimed was real.

For the second claim -- again, Russia themselves later contradicted this claim of two Ukrainian fighter jets near MH17. Their 2016 press conference -- held in the same room as the July 2014 one! -- showed "new" radar data that doesn't show these jets.

If for some reason you think that 2014 Russia is right and 2016 Russia is lying, find our podcast guest David Gleave talk about the impossibility of a Ukrainian Su-25 jet shooting down MH17: 

The third claim is when Russia has CSI-style "enhance, enhance, enhance!" technology to supposedly see an address of Ukrainian-controlled Krasnoarmeysk on a billboard near the Buk that downed MH17. In reality -- this text said "National Autodealer", not any sort of address.

More or less, Russia wants us to believe they did this on a few pixels of a billboard.

Now, where in the world did Russia get the idea that this billboard had a Krasnoarmeysk address? Did they make it up themselves?


Two days before their press conference, a few online random people made this up. Russia's Ministry of Defense took it and ran with it.

Yes, the Russian Ministry of Defense -- which is in charge of thousands of nuclear weapons -- copy/pasted a random message board post from 2 days after the MH17 downing and used it in their huge press conference officially addressing the tragedy.

For the final claim of the press conference, about the deployment of Ukrainian Buks south of Donetsk, Russia just straight-up Photoshopped some satellite pictures to make it look like a Buk had left an air defense base and was deployed to a field.

You can read a detailed account of how these satellite images were manipulated by @ArmsControlWonk from his article three years ago: 

Russia tried to pass off some satellite images as representing a destroyed air defense base from mid-July 2014, but didn't realize that there's a patch of vegetation on the side that was cut down a month before the MH17 downing. Note the vegetation below the number 3.

The field that the Russian MoD picked as the fake Ukrainian Buk launch site was controlled by Russian-separatist forces at the time -- if they had just moved it south 5-10 kilometers then it would have theoretically been a viable spot to lie about.

A week after the downing of MH17, @antelava visited a town a bit south of the supposed Zaroshchenske launch site (closer to Ukrainian positions). Natalia saw Russian-backed separatist forces stationed there. So, Russia picked a really bad fake launch site. 

Also interviewed in the podcast is @g900ap discussing his research into Russian troll activity around MH17. You can read a summary of his research in English here: 

Listen to the podcast for discussion on all of these topics here: 

Episode 3, focusing on how we traced the MH17 murder weapon back to Russia, will be out next week. Subscribe to the podcast on your favorite app, if you haven't already!

You can follow @bellingcat.


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