On Saturday, the English language online version of this still Communist party-owned publication published an editorial entitled ‘MH17: some conclusions — did Nato try to murder Putin?’ Note the use of the word ‘conclusions’ even as Russia tells the rest of the world not to jump to any.
The article cites unidentified ‘eyewitnesses’ who saw Ukrainian airforce jets ‘accompanying MH17’ and ‘rumours that President Putin was believed to be flying over the same route at the same time’.
It continues: ‘Sources who have asked not to be named have claimed that the Russian President’s aircraft has very similar contours and colouring to MH17 and that both aircraft intersected at the same point and altitude at a similar time.
‘In the event it did not fly over Ukraine, but the trajectory could have fooled those who wanted to murder President Putin. Nato?’
Almost comically — if it is possible to be amused by anything related to such a monstrous crime — the article in Pravda accused the British media of ‘a total lack of respect for the victims and their families, trying to score points from a tragedy’, immediately before observing: ‘After Iraq, after Libya, after Syria, would anyone seriously rule out a Nato attempt to murder President Putin?’
A placard reading 'Putin is a serial killer! Stop Russian terrorism' is situated on bouquet of flowers in commemoration of the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17 plane accident in eastern Ukraine in front of the Dutch embassy in Kiev
The author ends with the most important conclusion about the responsibility for this terrible incident — at least from the point of view of the man in the Kremlin: ‘One thing is clear: President Putin is not responsible.’
Putin has not yet attached his own name to the bizarre conspiracy theories given licence on the state-controlled media. He has contented himself with the observation that the 298 deaths were the Ukrainian government’s fault because ‘the state over whose territory this took place bears responsibility’.
It will be interesting to see whether the Russian President declares himself solely responsible if Chechen separatist rebels were to blow up a plane flying over Russian territory.
Putin’s apologists can legitimately point out it was the West — in the form of the U.S. navy — that blew up a passenger jet back in 1988. All 290 on board Iran Air Flight 655 were killed when it was struck by SM-2MR missiles fired from the USS Vincennes.
It is also true that though the U.S. government eventually paid reparations of $62 million to the bereaved families, it never apologised.
A cameraman chronicles tail debris at the main crash site of the Boeing 777 Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
But what the U.S. government didn’t do was to make up lies to the effect that Flight 655 had been downed by Iranian fighter jets in order to discredit Washington.
It only sought to defend its blundering naval officers (who had sailed into Iranian waters) on the grounds they had mistaken the airliner for an incoming warplane. That was not the least consolation for the victims’ families, but it was the truth.
One of the many merits of a free Press —which is what they have in the U.S. — is that it makes it almost impossible for the government to pull the wool over its own public’s eyes, or at least not for long.
But Putin, as the Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt observed last week, ‘has consolidated all the information and “news” resources of Russia in order to create a more effective instrument to . . . spread fear and division. While in the past, a war was initiated by an artillery barrage, today it is by a disinformation campaign’.
Disinformation was the name given to the artfully constructed lies produced by the USSR’s department for Agitation and Propaganda — in which skills the former KGB officer Putin would have been trained.
A pro-Russian fighter guards the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine
Perhaps the most elaborate was Operation INFEKTION, the KGB disinformation campaign to spread the idea that the CIA created Aids as part of a biological weapons project. This was partly designed to foment anger at U.S. military bases, which were often portrayed as the cause of Aids outbreaks in local populations.
It was successful: like a virus itself, the ‘CIA made Aids’ campaign spread across the globe. It may have even contributed to the refusal by the Moscow-trained South African president Thabo Mbeki to accept the real causes of the virus that was killing millions of his own countrymen — with appalling consequences.
As it happens, among the murdered on flight MH17 were Dutch experts travelling to address a Melbourne global Aids conference.
Do not be surprised if Pravda’s editorial board finds use for this in suggesting a U.S. motive for blowing up the plane: ‘Was one of the MH17 passengers about to reveal to the world the CIA’s real role in the killer disease?’
If they do, there will be more than enough idiots to believe them.