07/19/2014, 00.00
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Ukraine, inquiry into downed flight hindered

Despite yesterday’s statements, pro-Russian separatists restrict OSCE observers access to area. Mystery on the actual responsibility. The White House claims "Putin has the power to defuse violence but does not want to”. The Pope prays for victims and calls on all parties to the conflict "for peace and for a commitment to find negotiated solutions."

Moscow (AsiaNews / Agencies) - As the international community, from the UN to the European Union, clamor for an "impartial" investigation into the July 17 plane crash in Donetsk - eastern Ukraine - which killed 298 people, the inquiry is being seriously hindered with observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), only being granted limited access to the crash site, controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

Il Boeing 777 della Malaysia Airlines stava volando da Amsterdam a Kuala Lumpur. La maggior parte dei passeggeri a bordo era olandese e tra le vittime vi erano 80 bambini. Il volo è precipitato tra Krasni Luch - nella regione di Lugansk - e Shakhtarsk - nella vicina Donetsk, al confine con la Russia. 

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Most of the passengers were Dutch and 80 children were among the victims. The flight crashed between Krasni Luch - in the Lugansk region - and Shakhtarsk - in the neighboring Donetsk, on the border with Russia.

The blame game

Two days after the tragedy, the culprits for the shooting down for the Malaysian flight remain unknown while Kiev and Moscow trade accusations. According to the Ukrainian authorities and even the White House, it was Russia to supply the rebels Buk ground-to-air missiles, which can reach to the 10 thousand meters of height at which the plane was flying, probably mistaken for an enemy cargo plane. Barack Obama called the shooting down of the Malaysian Boeing "an outrage" and claimed that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has the influence and the power to defuse the violence, but so far has not chosen to do so. Therefore, he proposed new sanctions.

The leader of the separatists, for their part, have denied any involvement and accused of Kiev of being behind the attack on the plane. Russian President Vladimir Putin described the incident  "a tragedy" and dismissed allegations against Moscow as "stupid". He then contacted the leaders of Ukraine in which he emphasized the need for a "peaceful and urgent solution" to the crisis, calling for a ceasefire and the start of direct negotiations.

Obstacles to an impartial investigation

OSCE international observers arrived at the accident site, on July 18, to monitor the investigation. A spokesman for the organization, however, has reported that despite the rebels promises, the access to the site was controlled by armed men who fired shots into the air and forced the delegation of 25 people to leave after only an hour and a half.

The Donetsk militiamen of the self-declared republic have deployed 600 officers to guard the bodies and the remains of the plane. It is, however, not yet clear whether they will stick to a ceasefire announced by their leader, Andrei Purgin. For now it seems that the Contact Group - which includes Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE - have reached an agreement for the implementation of a safety zone of 20 km, which should help Kiev to identify the bodies and return them to their families.

Another mystery surrounds the whereabouts of the two black boxes of the Boeing: the pro-Russian rebels announced that they had retrieved them, while Moscow has denied it had attempted to acquire them. Soon after, news came that the flight recorders were in the hands of the Ukrainian Emergency services.

Kiev raises the tone and points the finger at Russia, even accusing Moscow of helping the separatists to destroy the evidence of their responsibility. "The Ukrainian government officially announces that the terrorists, with the support of Russia, are trying to destroy the evidence of this international crime," it said in a statement, according to which the rebels had removed 38 bodies from the scene of the disaster and prevent access to the area to Ukrainian investigators.

The religious authorities

Pope Francis "has learned with dismay" of the disaster and said he would pray for the many victims and calls on the parties to the conflict "for peace and for a commitment to dialogue to find solutions." Russian President Putin has instead asked the Patriarch of Moscow, Kirill, to intercede for the solution to the conflict in Ukraine. (N.A.)


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