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Russia Rejects MH17 Tribunal Investigation Plan as 'Counterproductive'

Russia says plans for an international tribunal to prosecute those suspected of downing Flight MH17 in Ukraine are “untimely and counterproductive.”
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/ Source: Reuters

Russia dismissed calls for an international tribunal to prosecute those suspected of downing Flight MH17 in Ukraine, saying Wednesday the proposals were “untimely and counterproductive.”

As the world prepared to mark Friday’s first anniversary of the disaster, Russia’s deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov told his Western counterparts that it was “regrettable” how Moscow’s own proposal for an investigation had been “disregarded.”

"At the same time, he stated that the proposal for an international tribunal on the MH17 disaster was untimely and counterproductive," according to a statement released Wednesday from the foreign ministry.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was shot down in rebel-held eastern Ukraine on July 17, killing all 298 passengers on board. Ukraine blames Russian-backed separatist rebels for downing the plane, while Moscow claims the plane was shot down by a Ukrainian missile or a warplane.

Malaysia — backed by Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Ukraine — has drafted a United Nations Security Council resolution which says a tribunal “would be an effective guarantee for an independent and impartial accountability process."

A Dutch-led international investigation into the crash is underway, with a report expected later this year.

Gatilov said he had “many other serious questions and complaints” about the investigation in the meeting with his counterparts from Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Malaysia and Ukraine.

“It was stressed that Russian experts have been essentially denied equal and full access to materials at the disposal of the international technical investigators,” according to the statement about the meeting held Tuesday.

“Russian experts, who have substantial experience in investigating air crashes and thorough knowledge in aircraft and missile manufacturing, as well as technical opportunities for making the necessary examinations, could provide substantial assistance to the investigation.”

The statement added that the idea of an independent tribunal was “based on a questionable principle” and said similar entities — such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda — were “ineffective, expensive” and “extremely politicized.”

“These judicial bodies have been in existence for over 20 years, but they have not provided any acceptable results of their activity” it said.

Russia has the power of veto at the Security Council.