The Paris Match BUK picture: Shadows, perspective, digital content, they all seem to be manipulated to construct an image of a situation that never was there. And that´s not the only alleged evidence Michael Kobs deals a serious blow. Is the JIT ready for some serious investigation?
What everybody sees who has taken a clear look at it: it just doesn´t add up. The infamous Paris Match image, a handycam still of a BUK launch installation waiting on the side of the road in Donetsk at the morning of July the 17th, 2014, shows some strange aspects, like a blurred BUK and a crystal clear unique truck.
Nevertheless, with eyes closed it could be main evidence for Russian involvement in the downing of flight MH17. Well, according to pro-NATO investigating team Bellingcat that is . But now is proven what everbody with a clear view and a clear mind already knew: it is fake on all levels. Shadows, perspective, digital content, they all seem to be manipulated to construct an image of a situation that never was there.
Its not the only target guestblogger Michael Kobs manages to deal a pretty tough blow. In his latest research report ¨Haunt the BUK¨, first issued in a German version, now revised and translated in English with an extra chapter on the Paris Match stills, he takes on a whole array of doubtful evidence.
The importance of his study is huge. The Paris Match photo, the visual starting point of the BUK trail, served as the link between the official Russian army and the anti-Kiev rebels, desperately in need of heavy anti-aircraft weapons. To sustain this narrative, Bellingcat managed to draw a comparison between the BUK on this picture and a BUK tracked in the Russian convoy.
Maybe realizing their case wasn’t that strong based on this dubious image alone, they invented an ingenious method, the so-called ¨side-skirt fingerprinting¨.
According to this technique the unique profile of the side-skirt of the murderous BUK displayed on the PM pic could be tracked being apparent in the BUK from the Russian convoy too. Kobs debunks both images and the ¨fingerprinting¨.
Reading this astonishing piece of dilligent work will make it obvious to everyone. After debunking the two faced BUK launch plume together with ¨Ole¨ (see this blogpost), Kobs has succeeded in debunking the Paris Match photo, while at the same time doing some serious damage to the probably fake Ukrainian story of a Russian BUK that was dragged to a south of Snizhne launchsite. Reading Kobs one may consider that an old saying might apply: Whenever a story seems to good to be true, it usually is. Maybe the Joint Investigation Team could pay attention.
The entire handycam video from which the Paris Match stills were extracted, was released on the webiste of the Dutch police after the 28.9.2016 JIT presser, which showed preliminary results of their investigations into weapon and launch site.
The video does not have any relevant metadata, but the file name, if original, gives a precise (but unconfirmed) timestamp. “The filename is “vid_20140717_102354.mp4″, so the video was supposedly shot at 10:23am.”, according to Bellingcat’s Aric Toler.
A few things are interesting. First, when the Buk is approached, the frame rate per second of the video drops to 15 fps. Furthermore, the Buk itself seems never to escape the blur initially cast over the entire view.
Third, apparently, the Toyota RAV4, standing idle on the road with door open in front of the parked truck with Buk, was not part of the transport in Donetsk. JIT shows in an animation (see from 3:00) only a Jeep UAZ and a black van were escorting the truck. In Makeevka the transport comprised of 5 escorting cars (video) or 2, maybe 3 (satellite image).
Though Aric Toler could not help himself gloating, the video does not stop to show the same problems Micha Kobs brought forward for the Paris Match stills – i.e. the time issue (shadows point to 11:05, not 10:23), the issue of the incorrect shadows (seem to belong to another load) and the issue of perspective.
Buk vehicle side-skirt comparison, the technique Bellingcat used to show this Buk matched a Buk from the Russian Kursk brigade, would entail constructing a “pixel salat”, as Kobs dubbed it. The above mentioned issues and other features resulting from the bad quality of this footage render the video useless for forensic sound comparison with known Buks.
Guestblog By Michael Kobs
Haunt the BUK – summary
On July 17, 2014 the Airliner MH-17 was shot down over Ukrainian territory occupied by pro-Russian separatists. Just a few hours later the culprit seemed to be certain. The chain of evidence includes phone calls the Ukrainian secret service SBU intercepted, a number of messages from social networks and anonymously mailed photos and videos.
The crucial elements in this chain of evidence are two photos that were leaked from an anonymous source to the French magazine Paris Match. Both photos are of very low quality and show a supposedly unique Volvo tractor with a red Faymonville low loader that has loaded a missile defense system BUK-M1. This BUK system appears to have remains of an inscription, which was linked by the Social Media researchers “Bellingcat” to the Russian BUK “3×2”.
According to Bellingcat the intercepted phone calls, the reported sightings in the social media and the photographic evidence prove that these Russian BUK equipped with 4 missiles was conveyed on the morning of July 17 by the Vostok Battalion of Donetsk to Snizhne and unloaded there.
Bellingcat claims that all their knowledge is based on public sources and therefore can be verified by anyone. So the in-depth investigation to their chain of evidence presented in this report leads to the following conclusions:
1.The BUK system did not drive in a convoy of the Vostok battalion;
2.The contents of the intercepted telephone calls are contradictive to the actual events;
3. The presented intercepted telephone recordings show indications of manipulation;
4. A part of the alleged BUK sightings in social media relate to an actual armored convoy without BUK. Another part is only the reproduced content of messages previously read by the source. The main source was far away from the actual events and just echoed second-hand information on the Internet. At the same time the actual sources of that information are unknown and so the information is not available to be verified and tested;
5. The “sightings” in social media repeatedly reported details that contradicted the facts. The fact that these details were mentioned, as well as the time they were mentioned, lead to the conclusion that social media specifically have been used to create a track in advance;
6. At the same time the alleged transport took place some efforts by Kiev officials can be observed to facilitate the later representation of a separatist BUK containing convoy;
7. Counter-evidence or information on the part of the separatists was either withheld from the public or temporally incorrectly classified and reproduced only to disfigure the content;
8. The heart of this chain of evidence – the Paris Match photos – are demonstrably false.
The full report can be downloaded here
Citizen investigator Max van der Werff discusses Michael Kobs” report here. In this blogpost he also usefully lists all reports Kobs has written about the MH17 case.