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19 July

Open letter to Vladimir Putin

on the 5th anniversary of the attack upon Malaysian airlines flight MH17 on July 17, 2014

Mr. Putin, respectfully: 

Justice must still be done. Let me be blunt My public letter to you began philosophically when it was published just before the 3rd Anniversary of the MH17 attack which was July 17, 2017.  That was 730 ago. 730 more days for the families of Flight MH17 victims to live without justice or explanation for the sudden, violent and public deaths of 298 loved ones, including 80 minor children. Russia chose to act on July 17, 2014. Russia did act. Within just or the 30 days Russia took the land, the industry and the people from the Eastern Ukraine based upon purported oppression that did not exist. You chose to take sovereignty over the Donbas, which did not belong to you and you chose to do it by killing 298 innocent souls with no interest in Ukraine, the Russian Federation or the foreign affairs or destiny of the Russian state or its people. 

The 730 days has passed not only for the 298 families of MH17, but the suffering has been extended to the peace loving families in Crimea and the Donbas.  Justice means setting the record straight. You sought to create “Novoroyssia”. But there is nothing new in what you did. The apartment bombings were not new. The evil opportunity presented by the hostages in the Moscow Theater and the Beslan School was not new. The little green men in the Crimea were not new. The snipers in the buildings at Euromaidan were not new. Most of all in the context of shooting down a commercial aircraft with a sophisticated missile sitting beneath a commercial flight corridor, that was not new. No, these acts and thousands more between 2014 and this day were all alike. Brutal, uncivilized and unjustified.

Each was an act of a powerful state using the deliberate sacrifice of innocent life as a provocation for making foreign policy moves and taking what they want in the full view of the world. To those with eyes to see, it is still murder. However, in the two years since I last wrote to you there have been some things that are new which have become known or which have been decided. A few are very important:

1. Russia’s military readiness leading up to and including July 17, 2014 makes a strong case supporting the intentional act of shooting down an airliner.

2. Social media and the immediate strong reaction of national authorities in the affected states probably caused the delay between the MH17 attack and the ultimate Russian Army invasion in August 2014.

3. As early as February 2014, a Russian Presidential advisor was making intercepted telephone instructions to pro-Russian forces to instigate unrest in Donetsk and the Donbas.

4. In 2014 significant and powerful leaders in the Donetsk and Luhansk pro-Russian, rebel movement were actually Russian citizens, Russian military and Russian Army GRU (Intelligence) who held themselves out as Ukrainian, such as Igor Strelkov (Girkin), Igor Bezler and Alexander Borodaij. Despite denials to the contrary, Russian regular military were present in the Eastern Ukraine before MH17 was shot down. Some of these people have been criminally indicted in full view of the world.

5. Criminal Indictments of Russians have occurred, more are likely.

6. The Dutch State has chosen to intervene in our civil action. Giving us a strong, motivated ally.

When viewed in the context of the destruction of MH17 these events and others make Russia’s denials seem foolish and add the aircraft attack to a much larger list of political and military events which concern the larger issue of Ukraine independence.

Mr. Putin, neither the families nor the states now involved in the ECHR by invitation of the Court want to see this controversy go beyond this anniversary. But you must act and initiate contact with my legal team through the Dutch Foreign Ministry office in the Hague. Your actions there will be treated with confidence.  Yes the states are involved, but my clients stand alone on their own behalf. We must be included in your resolution, if any.

Five years has passed, you need to take voluntary steps to make this right. The reality is that the nation states involved are gathering to resist your denials and hold the Russian state responsible for the 298 deaths on MH17. The further truth does appear to be that while MH17 was the target of a 9M38 series Russian Buk missile, the real target of the event was the freedom of the Ukrainian people. Ukraine should take stronger legal action against Russia in support of the MH17 families and petition the ECHR to intervene in that Court determination. Ukraine should take stronger ECHR legal action on their own behalf as a part of their arsenal of weapons to protect their own freedom.

“The truth still exists, evil is real and justice is still worth the pursuit.”


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