Conflicting Media Reports on Malaysian Airliner Tragedy Spread in Russia (Video)
Pro-Russian separatists say it was a Ukrainian military jet, then deny having capacity to shoot down planes.
MOSCOW, ODESSA, UKRAINE – The crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 in the eastern part of the Ukraine is generating conflicting reports in the Russian media sector.
Soon after the crash a pro-Russian separatist website reported that the Malaysian passenger airliner with 295 people on board was a military plane carrying Ukrainian armed forces. But sources in Ukraine claim the plane was shot down by Russian separatists.
"There is a version [of the story] that a cargo An-26 plane was shot down, but it was probably a military jet as it fired several rockets before crashing, according to eye witnesses," reported news outlet Russkaya Vesna, which also published several amateur videos of smoke rising from the site of the crash. Several Ukrainian military helicopters and transport aircraft have been shot down in recent weeks in the area.
Alexander Boroday, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DNR), claimed on his Twitter account @Dnr_Novorussia that "flights of civil aviation in Eastern Ukraine is impossible as a communication infrastructure is destroyed."
The Ukrainian TV network Hromadske quoted an expert from a national center for defense studies as saying that Ukrainian air defense forces were "not in the area," but that pro-Russian separatists with access to surface-to-air missiles were operating there.
But the BBC quoted a pro-Russian separatist leader denying any responsibility for bringing down the flight. "The portable air defense systems which we have, they work at a maximum of 3,000 to 4,000 meters," separatist spokesman Sergey Kavtaradze said. "Therefore, it is possible to say virtually before the start of the investigation that the Ukrainian armed forces destroyed this."
Russian site Life News later published photos of what appeared to be bodies in the wreckage of the downed flight.
Russia's state-run networks Rossiya 2 and Rossiya 24 also quoted pro-Russian separatists as saying that they don't have weapons capable of shooting down planes and reported that several Ukrainian surface-to-air missile systems, called "Buk," had been recently deployed in the zone of conflict.
Adding to the confusion, Russian independent network RBK had Anton Gerashchenko, an aide to Ukraine's interior minister, on the phone, and he quoted local witnesses who said the plane was shot down from a Buk system, but by pro-Russian separatists. He said that Ukrainian Buks were not within shooting range and called the separatists "terrorists" who are "funded personally by Putin."
Svyatoslav Tsegolko, press secretary of Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko said on his Twitter account @STsegolko, quoting the president: "We call it neither an incident, nor a disaster, but a terrorist act." Ukrainian emergency services are reportedly unable to reach the site of the plane crash as the area is controlled by anti-government rebels.
Amateur footage carried by Hromadske shows smoke rising from the site of the crashed Malaysian airliner. The 71 seconds of footage, shot near the coal mining town of Shakhtersk, appear to have been filmed shortly after flight MH-17, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, fell to earth. Voices speaking Russian can be heard saying: "Look, over there, where the clouds are a bit darker, a plane came down there," shortly before a plume of dark black smoke begins to rise from the horizon.