Down the rabbit hole with Putin haters: old narative fails but Strelkov did it anyway

Strelkov guilty

 

The official story of guilt for downing MH17 is founded on the so-called fatal mistake narrative, a story of separatists mistakenly mixing up a Ukrainian freighter plane for MH17. This narrative depends heavily on the misinterpretation of a message that was retracted from the news site Strelkov_info, a website on VK.com (“Russian Facebook”) that reported news about the fights and official quotes by the commander of the DPR forces, Igor – ¨Strelkov¨ – Girkin.

The deletion of this posting would be an act to conceal evidence after the commander found out the wrong plane had been downed, a story founded on a set of  false assumptions. Nevertheless, many news outlets and others try to reanimate this story.

The message, allegedly written by the chief-commander, showed some bragging about downing of an AN-26, which was erased from the web after the real identity of the plane downed was known. The Interpreter, a fierce anti-Putin newspaper allegedly tied to Putin foe Khodorkovsky, made sure this narrative received broad attention of western audiences.

In this blog I have tried to list several false assumptions and fallacies that were used to support this narrative.

Strelkov 17.16 eest message

The famous retracted Strelkov_info posting, deliberately mis-interpretated to disseminate a story Strelkov was concealing evidence of an implicit confession of a fatal mistake. The narrative was officially corroborated a few hours later when the Ukrainian secret service SBU issued the (fake) “Bezler-Geranin-Kozytsin confession intercepts“.

Translation:
“17.07.2014 17:50 (Moscow Time) Report from the militia.

‘In the area of Torez an AN-26 airplane has been shot down, it is scattered about somewhere by the Progress coal mine. We warned them – don’t fly ‘in our sky.’

Here is a video confirmation of the latest ‘bird drop.’ The bird fell beyond the slag heap, it did not damage the residential sector. Civilians were not hurt.

There is also information about a second downed airplane, apparently a SU.’”

 

Nevertheless, many news outlets and commentators kept on going spreading this story. The Interpreter even tried to revitalize the narrative in two articles written by Catherine Fitzpatrick after it was obvious they were on the wrong track. See here and here.

Fitzpatrick’s story starts with discrediting the de-constructors of the Kiev narrative by labeling them “pro-Kremlin commentators” who took two approaches “to support a story of a Russian cover-up”:

“So on some forums, we see users earnestly proving that in fact the VK group [Russian Facebook group, meaning the Strelkov_info site; HR] was used for Strelkov’s statements but only on their way to proving that therefore, the statement didn’t come from him personally.”

However, the claim those commentators, and I, made, was also confirmed by renowned pro-Kiev “infowarrior” Necro Mancer right after the first accusations started on the 17th:

Necormancer

Translation:

“This is a group on VK(ontakte), which has nothing to do with Girkin, just posting news and quotes from the great commander.”

 

Conclusion had to be a false assessment, founded on information circulating on social media, was reported on a website only dedicated in name to the commander. The message was deleted after the admins found out it contained wrong information and probably because of some other rather profane reasons as well like fear for backlash. But Strelkov hadn’t reported it himself nor was his first-hand account quoted in this posting.

According to The Interpreter (and many others) reporting facts is now some kind of deliberate strategy of pro-Kremlin commentators to distract from the inevitable conclusion the fatal mistake narrative has provided us. Either way, direct or indirect, the message can be traced back to the commander-in-chief himself and was therefore evidence of his guilt.

Though Fitzpatrick first deviates from the old story about this VK.com group by shifting the blame for deleting the real original wordings of the chief-commander to another web forum, she returns later on to Strelkov_info again. However, her narrative fails to deliver, an observation supported by more in-depth social media investigation.

Following her path of reasoning, I will deconstruct the reinforcement of her fatal mistake claim as it seems to pollute the quest for facts about what really happened with flight MH17.

 

First step: shifting blame from Strelkov_info to forum-antikvariat.ru
The line of reasoning Fitzpatrick follows, starts with the inference that because the same message was also posted on another forum, which was visited and even allegedly “moderated” by the chief, it still is proof of his direct involvement. The forum mentioned is forum-antikvariat.ru, a members-only pro-separatist forum on which the commander posted regularly with his nickname “Kotych” (son of cat).

As The Interpreter found out, on antikvariat.ru a message was posted on 16:37 EEST, about 15 minutes after the crash, written by a poster named “Margo-Donetsk”. This message from Margo showed up – after a few updates – with a video of the smoke from the burning remains of the crashed plane, a video also copied by the Strelkov_info dispatch shown in the image above. Same formulations of the message, same video – the left one in the Strelkov_info dispatch.

margot

Screenshot from the Margo-Donetsk posting on antikvariat.ru. The first two sentences were posted only 14-15 minutes after the crash. The video and the two lines below appeared in later updates of the posting. Last update appeared at 17:04 EEST.

 

Remarkable observation is that the famous Strelkov_info message arrived on the net more than half an hour later, at 17:16 EEST, according to its unix timestamp.

strelkov unixtime

The “17:50 MSK” (Moscow time) Strelkov_info posting, posted on the net at 17:16 EEST (EEST = local time = UTC+3). The collector of the newsitems as displayed in the final message, opened a text box on 16:50 EEST. Then it took 26 minutes to assemble the posting until it was ready to send.

 

Actually Fitzpatrick is sort of exonerating Strelkov_info with this as she is accusing them of merely copying, shifting the blame to antikvariat.ru. Therefore, in fact, the entire fatal mistake narrative evolving on the evening of the crash, which founded itself on retraction of this particular Strelkov_info posting, can be cast aside as even she acknowledges it was only a copy from another forum or poster and not written down straight by the chief.

However, there are more ways to Rome. According to Fitzpatrick it is very suspicious that on antikvariat.ru – original source of the Strelkov_info report as she now claims – some messages, including the one from Margo, were deleted, as shown by a renumbering of other postings.

Obviously this is called ¨tampering¨, because in Fitzpatrick’s mind its all about concealing serious evidence, not taking into account that other possibilities behind this act might be more plausible. Maybe people retracted their messages out of regard for the victims, being ashamed they cheered for a downing of an enemy plane that turned out to be something different. Or because they didn’t want to show wrong information (I cleanse my blogs from mistakes all the time).

From both these reasons can not be concluded that the info they derived their mis-interpretation from, came from people with inside knowledge about a downing. Pro-separatists cheered, Kievites mourned for the Ukrainian crew. Both were wrong. And the admins of antikvariat.ru and Strelkov_info deleted their postings with wrong conclusions probably not to conceal evidence, but because they were afraid of being hanged innocent after some folks would deliberately misinterpret the postings to frame them and the separatists for mass murder (as actually happened).

 

Next step: assert Strelkov himself was the first poster anyway
Second stap that follows in Fitzpatrick’s revitalization of the narrative is to make believable it was the commander-in-chief personally who was the first to post the message about a downed AN-26 near Progress on antikvariat.ru, that way tacitly assuming he also must have had inside knowledge of a shooting. This would have been copied by Margo somehow, though it seems not credible someone doubles a message that was written on a forum minutes before.

Fitzatrick proofs this from a discussion on another forum about this Margo-Donetsk posting, and its alleged predecessor written by the commander himself. Fitzpatrick concludes from the words from one poster that Strelkov was indeed “the first to report the downing, not Margo.”

But actually this is not what this user claims, when he cites from memory that the commander allegedly had only posted succinctly that an AN-26 “fell”, though without brags:

Quote: (…) Girkin stated this in Antikvariat.ru, then erased it quickly.

Reply: Not true. I read this post, it is literally one of the first, where he did not claim this, that supposedly he or his men shot down the plane. This was literally in the last paragraph of the text – in my memory that was something like – just telling that in this area another Ukrainian An-26  fell. That’s all. No statements such as – “we have brought down another Ukrov”.

So he says “one of the first”, not the first. And a plane “fell”, was not downed nor shot. Actually the first tweet after the crash mentioning  an “AN-26 fell”, was from a Kiev supporter issued 7-8 minutes after the crash, as we shall see later on.

The strong thing about this accusation is of course that if Strekov posted it, then it is very easy to suggest it was derived from inside knowledge, meaning he was informed (or even saw) a shooting had taken place. Perhaps that is what is making people so eager to pin the original posting about an AN-26 on him.

 

Third step: back to accusing Strelkov_info again
Fitzpatrick obviously knows this witness account from memory does not make a very strong case. So she tries to go all the way back and reinforce the suspicion about the Strelkov_info forum again, by pointing to an earlier posting made before the famous retracted one.

This is the posting mentioned:

Strelkov 17.41 message

At the top of the dispatch the same (but only the first) sentence as Margo used is displayed, and it seems to be posted at the same time too, 17:37 Moscow Time, 16:37 EEST.  Suggestion: both must have copied at the same time a previous message by the chief himself, so the message on Strelkov_info still originated from an earlier posting by the chief.

However, there is a tiny mistake being made with huge consequences. In reality this first Strelkov_info message was posted on 16:41 EEST, as can be retrieved from its Unix timestamp, which is an indisputable feature of a social media message.

timestamp first posting

The first line reads: “In the area of Snizhne an AN-26 airplane has been shot down, it is scattered about somewhere by the Progress coal mine.” Timestamp of this first Strelkov_info posting, labeled 17:37 MSK, shows that it actually was posted at 16:41 EEST. Apparently the writer opened a text box on 16:37 local time and decided to post the first line on 16:41 after he read Margo’s 16:37 posting on antikvariat.ru.

 

So it contained the same first sentence as Margo-Donetsk’s posting, but she had written this 4 minutes earlier. The assumption made by Fitzpatrick is entirely collapsing when this mistake shows up.

A pro-separatist tweeter Tohub also posted the same first sentence on twitter at 16:39 EEST and used quotation marks. It seems Tohub quoted Margo as his tweet ends with the first two words of the second sentence in Margo’s posting. “Warned the[m]…”. He only changed “Torez” for “Snizhne”, which was also mentioned in the first Strelkov_info posting.

tohub message 16.39 eest

Perhaps one of these two messages was used by the admins of Strelkov_info to copy and post. If we look at the first Strelkov posting, timed at 16:41, it only showed the first sentence of Margo’s message, but changed her “Torez ” for “Snizhne” as Tohub did. It is possible that they first confirmed the info with the tweet by Tohub, a well known separatist. Then in their second message, the one from 17:16 EEST, they used the entire updated message as Margo had posted – except for another smoke video that included – and again used “Torez” instead of Snizhne.

First Snizhne then Torez (Update)

Actually probably Margo herself had mentioned “Snizhne” in her initial 16:37 posting, when it was only containing the first two lines. Later, in an update, she revised it to Torez. So Tohub and the 16:41 Strelkov_info postings both mention “Snizhne”, but the second 17:16 Strelkov_info posting showed “Torez”, copying Margo again.

Anyway, there is no reason to assume the first Strelkov_info posting was written by the commander himself or was a direct copy of a lost  “ghost message” by the commander.

 

Fourth step: invent some loaded linkages
Nevertheless, Fitzpatrick is adamant: Strelkov posted it anyway. If not himself, then he is guilty because some people on antikvariat thought a Ukrainian plane was downed. Obviously, according to her, they were all in direct contact with the shooters (or were the shooters themselves). Their message must also have been endorsed by direct intervention from the chief/moderator as they were “fighters he commanded”.

Was Margo from Donetsk, who obviously was an AN-26 believer, also a separatist fighter in the Snizhne area commanded by Strelkov? Was Strelkov directly interfering with her posting on this forum by endorsing her, thereby confirming a first-hand mis-assessment? Fitzpatrick seems to think so.

Suggestion of a strong God-like almighty hand is appropriate in that case: Strelkov ¨endorsed¨ his fanpage Strelkov_info and ¨moderated¨ antikvariat, so therefore all messages posted there were under his command and with his full knowledge, right from the very first moment of posting. This would imply he would be busier with realtime moderating than with his actual job, being first in command in a civil war. This doesn’t bother Fitzpatrick though.

 

Step five: there just must have been an official earlier report!
So because some (pro)separatist people on these forums – forums which were tied to the commander in a way – believed a Ukrainian plane was downed, they must have posted it under the direction of the chief himself and the information must have arrived from an earlier source, one implicated in the shooting. Actually these are a lot of assumptions.

Its a fact, however, many non-separatists believed the same things too in the first moments after the crash. Therefore in my previous blogpost about the matter I listed this kind of reasoning as a fallacy: Just because you are a pro-separatist that is believing an AN-26 was downed, doesn’t put you right on the site of the shooting or issuing information from a first-hand account.

 

yngvar

A pro-Kiev infowarrior posting about a downed AN-26 over Torez at 16:56 EEST, mentioning a tweet from alleged Buk launch plume photographer Pavel Aleynikov, which was posted at 16:46 EEST but was deleted afterwards.

 

Its a valid question to ask if there was some earlier report to Margo’s message. Maybe there was, but then again… what would it say. Is it necessary it arrived from shooters or the chain of command, who instantaneously posted their success on social media? It seems Fitzpatrick really is believing this.

There were, however, not that many “fighters” present at the shooting. That is, if we believe the story disseminated by the Snizhne video of one car transporting a self-propelling Buk to the alleged launch site. Time between shooting and first appearance of the message was obviously too short to notify the entire brigade, everybody around them and their comrades too. A Russian crew was just sent in, so they are probably not those separatist fighters writing daily messages on a pro-separatist messaging board or having knowledge about the area, like there is a mine called “Progress” just north from Snizhne.

Nevertheless, the logic Fitzpatrick applies, leads to this conclusion: the Russian Buk crew or Strelkov and some in his chain of command, were possible posters of a report with a first-hand account which was published within minutes after the crash. However, the possibility someone from these two groups posted a message shortly after he witnessed the shooting of an AN-26, as they would have assumed at that moment, is not that big.

Foremost, because the mis-interpretation of the “AN-26” part relies fully on the incompetent spotter narrative. This holds a spotter mistakenly saw a passenger plane cruising at a speed of 905 km/h at a height of 10 km for a freighter plane, heading with a speed of 450 km/h at a height of about 5km. Besides, even from the infamous “Birdie comes to you” taps is not clear it was an AN-26 that flew there to be mixed up with a passenger plane (The spotter doesn’t even know if it was “a big one” or not).

There is no credible scenario thinkable in which the downing of a plane using a high-value war asset would have been founded on the opaque, unreliable information from an incompetent spotter. Taking that kind of risk, knowing civilian planes were flying over regularly, doesn’t seem rational. Russian roulette is not a sound airdefense tactic. So the “fatal mistake narrative” is not credible as it is.

 

Origins of the soundbites

So the AN-26 soundbite probably originated entirely from speculations made by third parties after they heard or saw something from the crash and put it on social media. Second catchy soundbite from Margo’s message is obviously the mine “Progress”. This mine is located towards the actual site where the plane crashed (Grabovo, Roszypne), but ónly about halfway, if you are watching the smoke from the outskirts of Snizhne North-West.

progress

 

Its more plausible the origins of Margo’s message arrived from a pro-separatist citizen with a view on the smoke, reporting from the outskirts of the city. This source was assuming the smoke came from somewhere near Progress, which seems likely when you are watching it from Snizhne North-West. Also the video that Margo links in an update of her 16:37 posting, originated from a residential area, by the way.

Lifenews met vid

Video linked by Strelkov_info (the right one in the 17:16 message), was also used in the LifeNews dispatch. Geolocation 48°04’05.1″N 38°44’01.8″E (Snizhne North-West).

LifeNews, also implicated in the fatal mistake narrative, probably copied contents from trustworthy social media sources, including their false assumptions. The video they showed, was first published on Vkontakte at 16:42 EEST by NovoRussia and probably made by a local supporter from the north-western outskirts of Snizhne. Strelkov_info posted a copy of this video ultimately originating from the Egor Yakovlev Vkontakte site as Micha Kobs shows in this document.

 

militants-suprised-an26-on-news

The LifeNews dispatch was aired so quickly after the disaster, a militant from the reconnaisance troops at the crash site informs Cossack leader Kozitsyn he saw it had to be an AN-26 “on the news”. Apparently both were unaware of any “official report” from the Strelkov chain-of-command, which would also have been mentioned in an alleged “ghost posting” on forum-antikvariat.ru. (NB: the timing of the above conversation could be false).

 

By the way, at that time AN-26 as well as SU-25 were mentioned as possible planes that were downed, see e.g. this tweet from 17:33 EEST:

confusion su25

Strelkov_info was even so confused, they mentioned in their second posting almost an hour after the shooting, the famous retracted one, also a Su-25 was shot down – still copying Margo, who obviously read the same contradicting sources. Nevertheless, in their strain of information the AN-26 soundbite prevailed over the SU-25 as the plane that was shot down near Torez.

 

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Some 3 minutes after the crash a conversation was reported on Zello, a smart-phone app for group discussions. Why someone with a view on the crashsite smoke concluded it was an AN-26 that “nosedived” is unclear. Also in the conversations is mentioned that the video that Margo linked as well, was uploaded on Youtube (7:05) and that “a person from Torez just told me it fell about the Progress mine” (7:40). This shows that the tags “AN-26”, “Progress” and the smoke video circulated on social media really quickly and all information originated from residents.

 

Tracking back
We have in order of appearance evidence of the following social media postings mentioning the “AN-26″ – “Progress” – “smoke video” story-line:

1. Margo-Donetsk: 16:37 EEST antikvariat.ru, a forum visited by some separatist fighters;

2. Tohub: Twitter 16:39 EEST, is himself part of the militia, quotes first sentence and first two words from the second sentence written in Margo’s posting, including “Snizhne”;

3. Strelkov_info 16:41 EEST, first sentence of Margo’s posting, mentioning “reported by militia”; also mentioning “Snizhne”.

4. Margo-Donetsk has updated her posting. It now mentions “Torez”, information about a SU25 and has linked a smoke video. Last update: 17:04 EEST.

5. Strelkov_info 17:16 EEST, mentioning full contents of Margo’s posting, “reported by militia”, now mentioning her “Torez” phrase. At 17:20 they link a second video showing smoke from the crash site.

 

The earliest tweet mentioning the “AN-26” soundbite was, remarkably, from pro-Kiev infowarrior UA_Ridna_Vilna, who already tweeted about it at 16:30 EEST, some 7-8 minutes after the crash!

vlad tweet 16.30 eest - Copy

On twitter “Progress” was only mentioned literally first at 16:39 EEST in the Tohub tweet. Though already at 16:34, “Military Maps” was linked to a tweet to describe the place of the allegedly downed AN-26. That link leads straight to a pin called “Progress”.
https://twitter.com/MichaKobs/status/741557499745144832

Apparently Margo got this information from a resident or another source (e.g. Zello, VKontake). Then later Margo linked the video named “48YlDSVFVMI” to this information, footage made by a resident, the left video that appeared in the Strekov_info posting later too. For comparison: A picture of the smoking remains of the plane was already posted by Kievite infowarrior @WowihaY at 16:40 EEST, a picture he had received from his friend with a view, alleged Buk plume photographer Pavel Aleynikov.

Margo retrieved the information package containing the tags  “AN-26” en “the mine Progress” really swiftly, but this information was already spreading on the web within a few minutes after the crash. The admins of Strelkov_info trusted her – they had posted info from her before tagging it “posted by the militia” – and copied her first sentence in the “17:37 MSK” posting.

The left video in the second Strelkov_info posting had the same origin as the one posted by Margo in an update. The right video they collected from Vkontakte (see this document of Micha Kobs who traced back the origin of both videos).

So the writer of the posting retrieved at some point in time between 17:04 and 17:16 the entire message Margo wrote, and decided to post it in full in a follow-up posting – 4 minutes later adding a second video they found on social media. As Fitzpatrick shows, Strelkov_info had copied a posting from Margo before, and had labeled it with “report from the militia”.

 

Also interesting is this message from 17:46 (MSK) = 16:46 EEST

The militia report that they brought down a Ukrainian An-26, according to citizen journalists. “In the region of Snizhne an An-26 was just shot down , lying somewhere near the mine”Progress “-  representatives of militia say. So far there is no official confirmation or refutation of this information.

So the source of the information seems to be “citizen journalists”, apparently quoting “representatives” of the militia. Perhaps this post is referring to Tohub, to the first Strekov_info posting or to the Margo antikvariat posting with the same formulations, tagging the message with “posted by militia”. As both forums were highly appreciated, though civilian sources, maybe they were seen as citizen-journalists.

That’s why this source is mentioning also that this news is unofficial, so not from an official source. Clearly they hadn’t found an earlier, official source (i.e. the Strelkov ghost posting) confirming this message, 9 minutes after Margo had posted her message.

Another interesting example is this 16:53 tweet from the Novorussia twitter-account, posted 12 minutes after the first Strelkov_info posting and 16 minutes after Margo:

City Torez, neighborhood “Victory 30th anniversary”, near the mine “three bis” fell a freighter An-26, allegedly shot down over Snizhne

Perhaps they also copied sources close to the crash site, so added the neighborhood and mine “3-bis”. 17:25 MSK would allude to time of first messages from people who had seen a plane crash. For example the @HuSnizhne and UA_Ridna_Vilna strain of information mentions it all: time 16:25, “Snizhne”, “AN-26”, that a plane “fell”. The mine part and the “allegedly shot down” part arrived from another source.

Obviously also Novorussia, a pretty well trusted source with about 60.000 followers, relied on the net and locals and not on some official first report from Strelkov’s antikvariat.

The official DNR press twitter account still displayed confusion at 17:20 EEST, an hour after the crash:

About 17-30 in the village of Rassypnoe (Torez), near the mine “Progress”, a plane fell, presumably An-26 Ukrainian air force.

Remarkably even DNR Press hadn’t received any official confirmation till then, manifesting itself in the phrase “presumably an AN-26”. Didn’t they know the commander posted on antikvariat? Or was there no original report from Strelkov posted? The second explanantion seems more likely. There even seemed to lack any official recognition at that time!

As said, its not likely Margo just copied a message written earlier on the same forum, the socalled “ghost report” from Strelkov himself or one of his nearest co-workers.

 

What we know
In the end it is Margo who laid down the phrases on antikvariat.ru, known for being involved with real fighters and even the commander himself posting regularly. Maybe she copied it from another forum/source, maybe she (partly) assembled it herself in direct contacts with residents. Then it is copied by Tohub (member of the militia) and Strelkov_info (who say it is “posted by militia”), spreading itself around the internet.

What we know:
Strelkov_info was not the first source of the information displayed. This is valid for contents, “brags” and videos. Most important, as other trusted news sources instanteneously seem to have copied her message (or used other resident sources like it) instead of some official report by Kotych on antikvariat.ru, we are well away proving there was no first-hand antikvariat report from the chief-commander.

There was no earlier posting from commander Strelkov (update)

Two postings before Margo’s 16:37 posting were removed from the thread, but their topic had nothing to do with the crash (see this report, part III by citizen investigator Arnold Greidanus, who retrieved all deleted postings in the thread [1]).

So the “AN-26” tag was not reported earlier on forum-antikvariat.ru, there was no earlier posting from the chief and the information collected by Margo did not come from the shooters or their command. Strelkov’s “ghost posting” did not exist. This also says Fitzpatrick’s witness was wrong.

 

What we don’t know:
We don’t know from whom Margo copied the AN-26 part exactly, if she heard it from someone or if she just picked up some speculative tags already running around the net. The odds the original source had anything to do with people with first-hand knowledge of the shooting, is very, very slim, if not non-existent.

The Interpreter could at least have investigated if the commander Strelkov had a habit of posting his successes immediately on social media with his or his minion’s finger still on the trigger. One could ask, for example, how a 16.7.2014 Su-25 downing in his area was reported and at what time difference. The Interpreter did not do this.

This is such an example, “Kotych” posting a message on the 16th of a downed Su-25, with added to it a personal message about a wounded friend:

strelkov dmitrievka 16.7 downing

At 9:20 a ukrov [negative designation for Ukrainians; HR] SU-25 downed over Dmitrievka.

Seriously (but not fatally) wounded  was “Prapor” – with multiple shrapnel in the arm. For the third time in this war.

See also a 20:58 message here, which showed more personal info by the way.

The message on antikvariat was posted July 16 at 19:57 EEST, about 10.5 hours (instead of a few minutes) after downing. Other remarkable differences with the message of the 17th that Fitzpatrick’s witness conveyes: Kotych now mentions “downed” instead of “fell” and is using the swear word “Ukrov” to designate the Ukrainians, contrary to what the witness remembers from the 17.7 message. So this example doesn’t make the temporary existence of a ghost posting nobody ever cited all the more credible.

 

Conclusions: rejection of the fatal mistake narrative

The God-Almighty approach Fitzpatrick peddles to give Strelkov a directing hand in everything to lay guilt upon him, is unjustified. It is not likely Strelkov was realtime monitoring every posting on a web forum he participated on or was endorsing all postings on another forum that copied his quotes.

With these articles Fitzpatrick managed to exonerate Strelkov_info and with that she pulled the plug from the story founded on this posting. This makes revitalization of this narrative by speculating about a ghost posting of the chief on another forum a futile exercise.

For deletion of the Strelkov_info message a sound explanation could be that the admins were afraid of being showered with accusations, which happened anyway thanks to web-archive services and people spreading manipulations.  On Facebook pro-Kiev propaganda network Euromaydan already issued the quintessential accusation at Strelkov based on this posting on 18:10 local time (54 minutes after posting!).

The progress of this misinterpretation shows how this message managed really quickly to become cornerstone of the historic conscience that (pro)western audiences now have about the disaster. It says:

“Apparently, the terrorists shot down a Malaysia Airlines plane. Strelkov brags on Vkontakte. There are videos.”

 

Euromaydan

 

The only conclusion that can be reached is, that we don’t know what the origin of the disaster was, but that we do know the “fatal mistake narrative” founded on the retracted Strelkov_info posting is a deliberate misinterpretation.

Its really alienating to see that every newsoutlet remembering the day of the disaster, starts with this “meme” as proof of separatist guilt. It has even been transformed into evidence which Ukraine also officialy conveyed in their complaint against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights and in their own criminal charge against former commander Strelkov (see screenshot below).

1637

It seems that the retraction of the Strelkov_info message will eventually survive history. As the story actually is pretty easy to debunk, this may say a lot about the role the media and its main protagonists play in our society.

With special thanks to Micha Kobs, Malinka and Marilyn Justice.

 

Notes:

[1] In this report by Greidanus he meticuously retrieves the origins of the Margo-Donetsk posting. Most important work was bringing back to light the postings that were deleted on forum-antikwavariat.ru, including the one by Margo.

Greidanus reaches the same conclusion as I did:

“All in all, Margo was just another pawn, unintentially reporting the ‘facts’ as she perceived them to be, within the context of what was known at that time. She most likely picked up some pieces of information from within militia circles, but she was not informed accurately on what had actually happened.”

“With regards to Strelkov’s accountability for the posts on the downed plane: contrary to what Catherine Fitzpatrick assumed there is no trace whatsoever that Strelkov posted about it.”

However, in his summary of my position he seems to misinterpret my first blog about the topic:

“As to Hector Reban’s statement that the removal of both posts at Strelkov_info should not be regarded as an act to hide the truth: the 17:16 Strelkov_info post was removed very late, after it had been presented in the media as Strelkov claiming to have downed the plane.

But the ‘decontamination’ of the thread at the ‘antiques forum’ clearly shows Strelkov, or rather the administrator acting on his behalf, rigorously deleted every trace that could associate Strelkov’s thread to the downed Boeing. One might reason, that they might as well have maintained Margo’s post, just to prove it hadn’t been Strelkov’s writing, but some civilian’s. Given the rush and the rigour with which all these posts were deleted, it very much looks like they were trying to cover up.”

Of course, this formulation contains some pejorative notions, like “decontamination”, “everything they could”, “rigourously deleted” and “with rush and rigour”. In fact, his study supports the impression they were apprehended by the consequences of the misinterpretations and the “shit load”, as Arnold puts it, that came over them as Kievite propagandachannels picked up.

In fact, the administrator tells the posters to open another thread for the Boeing case, which was done later on. This thread was deleted in August, but this does not imply that haste or a desperate need to cleanse the forum was needed, as Greidanus suggests. Some of the postings that were deleted, showed information after was found out a civilian plane was downed. The thread showed Kotych/Strelkov himself, issuing an official statement that investigators would be free to enter the crash site. So Strelkov tied himself to the Boeing in the very same thread.

Actually my argument was made to assert that deletion of the posting on Strelkov_info was not done by a party who got to know after some time it was guilty of shooting down the wrong plane. Even if the admins “contaminated with rigour”, there still is no clue that they had real first-hand knowledge about what had happened. Clearly, they wanted to turn back the clock and undo what the Kievite propaganda was making of the Margo posting – putting the spotlight on the forum in a negative way. But that does not imply guilt or exact knowledge about the shooting itself.

7 gedachtes over “Down the rabbit hole with Putin haters: old narative fails but Strelkov did it anyway

  1. The most significant piece of information here to me is the earliest mention of the crashing of the supposed AN-26. That’s the tweet by the pro-Kiev UA_Ridna_Vilna that was posted well before Strelkov_info’s vk message. That was at 16:30 EEST, twenty minutes before the time displayed by Strelkov_info, and 46 minutes before the timestamp of that message.

    This means that someone on the pro-Kiev side also jumped to the conclusion that the 777 was an AN-26, only ten minutes after the crash. The most obvious explanation for that mistake was was that he/she assumed that the rebels succeeded in repeating the much-publicised downing of an AN-26, as happened in the Luhansk region three days earlier.

    If UA_Ridna_Vilna mistakenly believed that, then it’s possible that Strelkov_info believed the same thing for the same reason, without any direct knowledge of who launched the missile or what they were firing at. But that won’t stop some people from dismissing that possibility and accepting only one interpretation, namely that Strelkov’s forces shot down what they thought was an AN-26 and bragged about it afterwards.

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  2. Thanks for doing some detailed analysis on the extensive anti-Donbass MH17 Twitter propaganda, especially by Interpreter, a source I myself, as a journalist researching the topic, have had to put up with seeing almost every day for the last 2 years. My fear is that the Dutch Phase II report, according to their preliminary announcement, has relied almost entirely on Social Media and Ukrainian “intelligence” to determine the route of the alleged BUK missile from the Russian border to the launch site and back. I saw many of these tweets about the “BUK missile” in Donetsk and so forth, and dismissed them as propagandist fakes. But the Dutch are taking them seriously. (There was of course no BUK missile. MH17 was shot down by a Ukrainian fighter jet.)

    What concerns me is that these same kinds of tweets falsely reported just what you said about Strelkov, that he “admitted” shooting the plane down himself by accident. So will the Dutch now blame Strelkov? And if so, what can we, the alternate media, do to stop this dangerous nonsense?

    Enrico Ivanov, I believe, said the TASS report shown in many tweets about shooting down an AN-26 was actually referring to another shootdown of a Ukrainian fighter jet. Two Ukrainian jets were shot down by the militias around that same time in mid-July 2014.

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    • The ITAR/TASS message was imho a lazy copy dispatched several hours after the crash at a moment more information was already available. Origin might well be a 17:13/18:19 EEST dispatch from RIA Novosti:
      http://ria.ru/world/20140717/1016409306.html

      RIA Novosit probably founded themselves on social media messages, like early messages about AN-26 as were circulating on social media and Zello a few minutes after the crash and a message like from someone called @_Yana_P in the Lutugino area claiming to have seen “a couple of missiles” (not one apparently).

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  3. Pingback: Donetsk Lugansk News Sep 1-30 2016 | Novorossiya Daily Sun

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  5. Pingback: “Civilians were not hurt” – a reconstruction of the alleged Strelkov posts and their origins | ArnoldG

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