MH17 and OSINT, a suspicious narrative, part 4 – Donbass Buk phantom or fact?

This blogpost is the fourth part of a series that I will publish in the last months before the MH17 trial starts, on March 9th, 2020. The series will review important parts of the evidence as publically disseminated or (implicitly) endorsed by the JIT.

The research presented will reveal more concerning the questions how the “main scenario” the JIT has worked with was framed, how the OSINT evidence has come about, who have been involved and how the Dutch Safety Board investigations have propped up the scenario. The series is supported by an assessment of most publically known evidence (comprising videos, photos, written messages and intercepts by the Ukrainian secret service) in a report of more than 100 pages containing more than 150 links to original sources and verifications.

As social media and open source intelligence (OSINT) played a pivotal role in the framing of the causes of the crash, first part of the series contained an assessment of the OSINT method the JIT also seemed to have embraced. The second part, “Strange Ways”, showed examples how some parts of the evidence came out in the open, who were the key players and how social and regular media channels were used to clean the alleged evidence from suspicion.

It seems most evidence ultimately arrived from a special unit, partly operating overtly and partly covertly, tied to the Interior Ministry of Ukraine and the organization that politically resorts under it, the Ukrainian secret service SBU. Part 3 of the series, called “Behind the screens“, shed more light on this unit of ultranationalist militia, spotters, infowarriors and SBU operatives.

In the next part, called “Donbass Buk, phantom or fact?some general observations about the Buk trail evidence will be listed. This automatically leads to a critical review of the way the (pro-)western press corps supported the official narrative by delivery of dozens of questionable witness accounts.

Part 4. Donbass Buk, phantom or fact?

Sweeny 2

With the knowledge presented so far, it is time to re-examine the evidence as publically known (except for the intercepted calls by the SBU; see the upcoming part 5 of this blogpost series for those) and formulate some general observations. This alleged evidence, comprised of photos, videos and written social and established media accounts allegedly posted or captured by “ordinary citizens” or reporters, allegedly depicts a 17 July 2014 trail of the movement of a Russian Buk air-defense missile system from Donetsk to an alleged launch site in a farmfield near the village of Pervomais’kiy.

In part 1 I presented criticism to the OSINT method as performed by hyperpartisan astroturf OSINT collectives. Foremost problems arise because (alleged) facts are retrieved isolated from their context, in the first place as a result of the large relational, psychological and cultural distance between source and researcher. Veracity and authenticity of the information as it presents itself on social media are not a priori guaranteed and often even cannot be established. As this invites subjective interpretation by the OSINT researcher to construct meaning of – and relations between – the found “points” of information, the method could easily lead to an approach that is rampant with superficiality and confirmation bias.

Therefore elucidation of the retrieved isolated facts might show a lot of subjective conjecture, whereas actually the neutrality, spontaneity and authenticity of the information (as in: no special interests other than showing facts from one’s own experiences) – qualities that initially boost its value  – is preconceived. Sources may not be as perceived and the information provided might need deep investigation into the origins to establish veracity and authenticity, All too often this is not done – or can’t be done – and the information is taken at face value.

With this criticism in mind, more light was shed on the origins of the Buk trail sources by doing further investigation, trying to get more information about the gaps that were filled up rather superficially by trail builders like Bellingcat and their (pro-)Ukrainian associates. For example. it appeared in part 2 that the dissemination of two videos of the Buk movement on social media, which were allegedly posted by ordinary citizens, was tied to the Ukrainian secret service SBU.

From two other sources, connected to established media (Associated Press and Paris Match), it became clear that mainstream journalism in an age of opinion making (as assisted by OSINT methods) might be used easily to obfuscate the origin of information. Furthermore it proved how journalism in these cases actually engaged in closing down sources instead of opening them up.

As described in part 3 the contours of a seemingly informal intelligence unit of SBU operatives, militia, spotters and infowarriors tied to the Interior Ministry came to light, it was apparent that probably nothing of the information actually originated from spontaneously and neutrally posting ordinary citizens. As this opens up the way that the information might have been manipulated from some joint point of origin, it is important to assess the observations that can be made from the investigations and the conclusions that could be drawn as we are trying to dig deeper into the matter.

4.1 Some observations about the Buk trail evidence

To list some observations from all that was written above in parts 1-3 of this series, its advisable to take another short look on the alleged Buk trail evidence that found its way to the public, i.e. in the Bellingcat reports. For clarity I have divided this evidence in three parts. The first part shows accounts that were disseminated before the plane crash; the second part will list the material that appeared on social and established media channels on July 17th, after the plane had crashed. Finally, the third part will comprise the videos, photos and posts that arrived after July 17th.

The individual accounts have been given a colour to convey an impression to what extent the particular source is suspected to be connected to the operations of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, as argued in parts 1-3:

Green: No connection or unknown

Purple: Suspicion of contacts with either SBU, the Torez/Snizhne group or other members from Kropachev-Gerashchenko-Avakov unit

Orange: Very strong suspicion

Red: Established connection

 

Sightings on 17 July 2014 before the crash

(All sources are assessed in my overview “Problems of the track-a-trail evidence”, part II)

Type of message Location Buk, Time posting Original source Ties to Torez/Snizhne unit Specifics
Tweets Donetsk, 10:11 Unknown, relay by NecroMancer (1) Superficial as a fellow infowarrior Unclear what actually is reported. “One cannon, no missiles mounted”.
VK.com posting Donetsk, 10:40 Unknown. Relay on “Donetsk is Ukraine!” wall Unknown. Message shows many specifics in a 15 minute sighting (surveillance?)
Tweets Torez, 12:07-16 Unknown, relay by @WowihaY Yes 4 missiles”
Tweet Donetsk, 12:20 Unknown, relay by @Occupied_Rook possibly from “Donetsk is Ukraine!” VK.com posting (2) Yes Copied info from VK.com or other written but unknown posting
Tweet Shakhtarsk, 12:41 Unknown, relay by @spice4russia Yes possibly a Buk before” (conjecture based on WowihaY tweets)
Tweet Torez, 12:26 Unknown, probably relay by @MOR2537 (Roman)
Yes two cars”, “awning”
Facebook posting with updates (2) Torez, 12:17-13:18 Unknown. probably relay from @WowihaY to Euromaydan Probably, yes. Contacts established on 17.7.2014 Machines with terrorists” (Vostok?), “from Torez towards Snizhne” (2nd WowihaY tweet).
Tweet Snizhne, 12:53 Unknown; possibly relay or conjecture by infowarrior @Hallahups Follower of Torez/Snizhne infowarrior group members Conjecture based on @WowihaY or @MOR2537 Torez tweets?
VK.com posting Snizhne, 12:51/ 14:08:33, last edit 16:05
Source is relay from “SD” to South-East News. Probably not 1st hand account No (pro-separatist) Time posting Buk photo more than 3 hours before edit last message

————————————————-

(1) NecroMancer replies to a question about this incomprehensable testimony: “Maybe this is the Buk that was caught on the airforce base [A-1402, on 29.6.2014; HR]. ATO airforce pledged it didn’t work?” NecroMancer: Perhaps he [the information provider?] did not see it”; https://twitter.com/666_mancer/status/489729553833938944

(2) This “Donetsk is Ukraine!” VK.com newssite was posting a 15 minute Buk sigthing from an unknown source and probably was also a relay; there are at least 3 copies of this posting known. Actually Occupied_Rook mentions movement of the transport in an opposite direction, but no other written account has been found on which he could have based his remarks.

(3) There were also copies, eg., on https://ukr.media/ukrain/207606/

 

 

Publications on July 17th after the crash

(All sources are assessed in my report “Problems of the track-a-trail evidence”, parts I, II and III)

Type of message Time 1st posting, location Buk Original source Interior Ministry unit involvement Specifics
Witness account Buk, Daily Mail 18:51, Snizhne AP’s Dmitry Lovetsky (identity retrieved) No. Alleged secrecy of the transport
Photo launchplume, twitter 19:23, Pervomaiskyi @rescuero (identity retrieved) Yes; contacts with SBU established Handed over to @WowihaY and Anton Gerashchenko
Photo, VK.com military portal (*) Original posted before 20:09, Stroi Dom Torez Ruslan Nasadyuk, original unknown Yes. Tornado suspected Confirmed by Anonymous and Yuri Butusov; Original deleted from VK.com portal soon after posting
Video on YouTube, posted by tweet to Dajey Petros (*) Time unknown, N21 Zuhres @3Andryu (indentity retrieved) SBU contacts confirmed Posted on one time used YouTube channel. Tweet deleted same evening.
Video on YouTube, posted on local VK.com group (*) Snizhne south, on T0522. Original posted shortly before 20:33 Vita V. (identity retrieved) Likely. SBU contacts plausible. Posted on one time used YouTube channel. Original deleted within 70 minutes, but many pro-Kiev infowarriors alerted.
Photo, first medium unknown (*) Snizhne, Karapetyan street; First known copy from 23:04 Unknown, possibly from safehouse. First known copy from Vlad Palienko As fellow infowarrior (2) Original deleted from social media soon after posting.
Witness account plume (NBC News) South from Snizhne as seen from the north Andrey T. Yes. Possibly established via Gerashchenko

—————————————————-

(*) Originals that disappeared quickly after posting:

17.7 @3Andryu Tweet with Zuhres video

17.7 Original VK.com posting with Torez photo

17.7 Original source of Snizhne Karapetyan photo

17.7 Bolodya Familiev YouTube publication of Snizhne video

 

 

 

Publications after July 17th, 2014

(All sources are assessed in my report “Problems of the track-a-trail evidence”, parts I, II and III)

 

Type of message Time 1st posting, location Buk Original source Interior Ministry unit involvement Specifics
Video, on Facebook account Arsen Avakov 18.7, Luhansk Secret surveillance operatives. Yes. At first wrong location conveyed (close to Russian border)
Two stills 23/25.7, Donetsk Unknown, relayed by Paris Match Unknown. Possibly SBU. Wrong place,time and source conveyed
Conversation on Zello 24.7 Alleged missile over Octyabr, Snizhne (3) Unknown. No. Unit involved in retrieval. Retrieved by @WowihaY from Zello.
Witness account Buk in Novaya Gazeta 13.7.2015, Snizhne area Local journalist, possibly @WowihaY Possibly. Time of account does not match Snizhne, but does match Torez
Video, on YouTube 3.5.2016, Makiivka Unknown. Oliferenko YouTube channel. Publisher is not the maker. Yes. Confirmed by Anonymous; Wowihay announces existence new Buk video in BBC documentary; YT channel one-time used
Satellite imagery 13.5.2016, Makiivka Stratfor/All Source Analysis No. In 9 days imagery also appears on Google Earth
A full video on JIT website (***) 28.9.2016, Donetsk Unknown, published by JIT Unknown, possibly SBU Source of Paris Match stills
A video on website Dutch police (***) 28.9.2016, Torez Unkown, published by JIT Yes. Tornado suspected Confirmed by Butusov; Severely edited “to protect source”
A launchplume photo, on presser (***) 28.9.2016, near Pervomais’kyi
Observation post related to T., published by JIT Yes. Matches “the impossible launchsite” (**)
A photo, on VK.com (***) 25.10.2017, Donetsk Unknown, published by JIT Unknown. Tornado? Same Buk as on Torez imagery
A high resolution still (***) 24.5.2018, Makiivka Unknown, published by JIT Yes. Still from known degraded video

 

——————————————————

(**) For people knowing the area and the 15 July posting of the Saurivka bombing posted by Andrey T. (as shown in part 3), it is easy to see the launch plume on the JIT picture matches the Ukraine@war/Oliphant launch field. However, Micha Kobs calculated the launch plume on the both @rescuero pictures, taken 7 seconds apart from each other, back to its origin with assistance of the wind speed. It appeared the plume arrived from the backyard of people living in Pervomais’kyi, if the trail was genuine. Pretty well impossible. See also part I of the social media report, p.34-39. and my blogsposts The trail that was not a launch plume and The mystery of the two face launch plume.

plume-in-pixels-traveled

Calculating the angular wind drift of the launch plume as photographed by @rescuero, member of the small group of confidants tied to the Kropachev-Gerashchenko-Avakov unit. Proven was also that the black smoke and the white plume were unrelated, although the black smoke curled up neatly into the white.

 

(***) Not on social media/No OSINT

28.9.2016, JIT, full “Paris Match video” => used for fingerprinting

28.9.2016, JIT, Torez video => used for fingerprinting

28.9.2016, JIT, 2nd plume picture => used for triangulation with launch plume photo @rescuero

19.10.2017, JIT, Donetsk photo => used for fingerprinting

24.5.2018, JIT, high resolution Makiivka video => used for fingerprinting

Nota Bene: Actually nothing of the original OSINT was used for the fingerprinting analysis by the JIT, though this method was already performed by Bellingcat in a September 2014 article (8.9.2014) and explored further in an article published on November 8th, 2014 (8.11.2014). They used the Paris Match stills for this and constructed a “unique fingerprint” of the Buk’s side skirt.

 

sideskirt magic

It seems possible to construct unique fingerprints from almost everything. Even from the sideskirt of a digitally warped Buk, as Bellingcat showed in their November 2014 article.

 

All parts used by the JIT, including the full video from which the Paris Match stills were cropped, arrived at the JIT directly, possibly through their Ukrainian co-workers from the SBU. The same is true for the second source of a launch plume picture, connected to Andrey T., a member of the Kropachev-Gerashchenko unit (see part 3).

According to an interview with the maker of the first launch plume photos, Pavel A., he gave up his camera to the SBU (see his RTL4 interview in part 2). It will be interesting to learn if the Dutch Prosecutor’s Office has available all original, authentic imagery, established in a forensically closed chain of custody, especially the imagery that has been used for fingerprinting and launch plume triangulation. In fact, without it, they won’t have a case at all.

 

 

4.2 Some evaluations about the Buk trail sources

A loosely knit network was created, existing of local spotters and infowarriors behind enemy lines, living in the DPR, and infowarriors living outside of it. The spotters present in the area on July 17th did not post their information directly to social media like twitter, Facebook or Vkontakte at the time that the Buk drove by, as all of the pre-crash accounts found, seemed to be written second-hand relays from people not even at the scene.

For example, @WowihaY claimed in an interview he already had left Snizhne before July 2014 (The local informants he is mentioning, apparently did not post anything themselves about a Buk movement prior to the shoot down):

wowi interview

Another interesting aspect is that he claimed he had “channels of communication established with [Ukrainian soldiers]”. Maybe the soldier who was “well-versed in weaponry” and provided WowihaY with the account of the Buk with 4 missiles, as WowihaY claimed, belonged to the Interior Ministry intelligence unit that was tightly knit to a small part of confidants, of which WowihaY also was a member (see part 3). This information of the 4 mounted missiles provided a crucial clue, because the Buk on the Luhansk video only showed 3 missiles, allegedly missing the deadly one.

It is plausible also Buk sighting tweeter Roman did not convey a first-hand account. Although he lived in Donetsk, according to his twitter profile, in the days around the downing he mostly tweeted about news from the Torez/Snizhne area. On July 17th Roman reported the movements of the Oplot and the Vostok convoys, as Wowihay did as well from a Ukrainian city far away. Roman never claimed he actually saw the Buk himself nor alluded to this in other tweets about Buk presence.

More evidence that showed up on the 17th can only be traced back to people who were not at the scene being described. An intriguing example of this is the picture of a Buk driving or standing on Karapetyan street, in the center of Snizhne. Bellingcat, picking low hanging fruits, used @GirkinGirkin as their trail source. This poster, who displayed a photo of Shakhtarsk on his twitter profile at the time, was also an acquaintance of the @WowihaY twitter crowd.

However, his message on 18 July, 0:27 local time, was not the earliest posting of this picture found. This was the message by user Vlad Polienko, who posted the same information package (pic+geolocation tips) some 1.5 hrs before. He did this on VK.com group “Overheard in Snizhne”, the channel in which also Vita V. posted a link to her video. (Vlad’s replies were deleted very recently, but I kept a few screenshots )

vladpolienko-vkontakte-comment

In the thread Polienko told a user named Ksyuhin that he came from the area, but lived in Kiev at the time

Polienko 2

Ksuyhin’s friends, who had been around when the Buk allegedly was off-loaded and had stood idle in the center of Snizhne for ¾ hrs, hadn’t seen anything. Nonetheless, Vlad insisted from Kiev he knew better than them of what was going on in Snizhne.

Polienko 1

Contrary to the picture of a Buk driving in front of the Stroi Dom market in Torez, captured by an “activist” of the Kropachev-Gerashchenko unit, the Karapetyan photo was thinly disseminated. After 20:10 local time the Torez photo was copied many times within the hour and was geolocated within half an hour as well [sources 20:46, 20:48]. The Snizhne Karapetyan photo, on the contrary, got relatively very little attention and was not even present in early accounts of a Buk trail that were posted on the evening of the crash.

The two pictures had one thing in common though. The original posting dissapeared very shortly after publication and infowarriors took over – as also was the case with the Vita V. video (see part 2, section 2.1). From this the impression was raised that the people implicated in the making (or their helpers) chose to inform trusted and well known channels to be sure the material would swiftly arrive at the OSINT collectors and the general public. To reupload the Vita V. video and the Tornado Torez picture many people presumably were made aware of existence of this imagery, with respect to the Karapetyan photo apparently only very few were alarmed.

Some of the accounts mentioned in publications have to be discarded. For example, Bellingcat’s trail even consisted of two sightings of the Vostok tanks in Torez, which are left out in the lists above altogether as they had nothing to do with a Buk transport (for one, see screengrab below).

Anna R Vostok

 

Also the NecroMancer tweets are shady, as the information they convey – maybe from third-hand testimony – are too incomprehensible. Time and place of the accounts, and ultimately also the message that something with caterpillar tracks was involved, showed some clues for cross referencing with other accounts from Donetsk. However, the rest of the reports contained information that was not at all consistent with a Buk transport.

necromancer

 

Actually, the second tweet by NecroMancer might allude to a second Kamaz or Ural truck, one with a mounted gun, which hauled the trailer with the Buk. This piece of disinformation was also posted by InfoResistance and Dmytri Tymchuk shortly after the crash (see also part 2 and the screenshot below).

 

Tymchuk convoy is Necro Mancer Buk

 

In fact, the mysteriously reported convoy matched a lot of the vehicles that paraded on the streets of Donetsk on July 10th, as mentioned in part 2. It is suspected that intercepted calls by the SBU, in which second in command of the DPR forces “Khmuryi” allegedly orders “that beauty” (read: Buk) to go with the 17 July Vostok convoy, was used to provide propaganda channels with disinformation about a Vostok-led Buk transport. Perhaps not only InfoResistance was supplied with this disinformation, but also NecroMancer’s informants.

Strela in VostokKhmuryi en Buri Vostok

 

Top: A message on VK.com pro-separatist news board Strelkov_info showing a Strela-10 air defense missile system and a KAMAZ or a MAN truck driving in a parade by the Vostok battalion in Donetsk on July 10th.

Bottom: Intercepted call in which Khmuryi orders the Buk to go with Vostok. Probably this information was distributed by the SBU to a few propaganda channels – InfoResistance, defense expert Dmytri Tymchuk and Euromaydan. The Vostok convoy actually departed in the morning of the 17th, at about 10 AM, but only showed three tanks and an Ural armoured truck carrying separatists. There were no APC’s, no Kamaz trucks, only one Ural and no Buk.

 

The @spice4russia tweet – a reply to @WowihaY – obviously contains a conjecture that the Buk should have passed his probable residence Shakhtarsk before the Vostok convoy did, based on Wowihay’s “Buk in Torez” tweets. Another acquainted infowarrior reporting from Shakhtarsk tweeted about Vostok, but also did not report a Buk when it should have passed by.

After the crash, @spice4russia tweeted: ¨National Security Council: The Ukrainian side has data on the use of anti-missile system “Buk” by militants and other settings¨, obviously pointing to the Lysenko afternoon presser, also mentioned in part 2. He never mentioned seeing a Buk himself, not even when he pointed to this message from the National Security Council.

Probably also @Hallahups, tweeting the mysterious line “And now the Buk enters Snizhne” 37 minutes after WowihaY’s second tweet (“Buk travels (…) at Snizhne”), conjectured Buk presence in Snizhne after some time, based on the accounts of Roman and @WowihaY, whom he presumably was following on twitter. His twitter profile shows a full gallery of more than 600 mostly pro-Kiev influencers, including these two, on August 23rd, 2014. After this date, about the time the anti-terror operation was losing ground, it ceased to show further posting. By then he had posted more than 3.000 messages in only 3.5 months.

The alleged Buk plume witness that was found by @WowihaY on smartphone app Zello does not seem to be a credible testimony, as the information conveyed does not match the direction of the alleged launch trajectory. @WowihaY pinpointed the witness’s whereabouts not far from Vita V.’s and Andrey T’s residences in the southern suburbs of Snizhne (see below).

Oktober district SnizhneZello witness 2

Top: WowihaY’s geolocation of the Zello Buk plume witness claiming that she saw something flying over Oktyabr, a neighborhood in the southern suburbs of Snizhne. A second witness in the Zello conversation saw something flying over Snizhne in the direction of the Khimmash plant.

Bottom: Launch trajectory from the Ukraine@war/Oliphant field, the officially endorsed launch site (see also the upcoming part 6 of this series). Both accounts do not match the north-western direction of the alleged launch trajectory.

 

Bellingcat moved the witness account towards the tiny settlement Red October (Chervonyi Zhovten), a few kilometers south of Snizhne. They never wanted to explain how they got to this result, although it seemed to have arrived from cherry picking the expedient “October/Oktyabr”. Their witness location deviated some 4 km from WowihaY’s, which probably was the working of confirmation bias. The Bellingcat witness location intersected nicely with the geolocation lines to the alleged launch site, as resulted from the @rescuero plume pictures (see image below).

ukraineatwar wowihay launchsite

Coordinates of Bellingcat’s transported Zello witness, deviating 4 km. from the WowihaY/Ukraine@war location. Image credit: Max van der Werff.

 

Confirmation bias, as a typical form of cognitive bias, also leads to “cognitive dissonance reduction”, which says that people are inclined to discard information if it does not match their ideas. In the Zello audio recording, the witness from “Oktyabr” claimed “it was flying as if from Saurivka”, which is due south. Two other witnesses said:

[2:00] “Well, it appears everybody saw where the missile has flown from.”
[2:04] “Well, where you are, everybody saw it, but the Ukrainian media, as usual, will say, will say that this were us.”

Of course, these opinions are not meant to corroborate that a missile was launched far more to the south (in territory controlled by the Ukrainian army/volunteer battalions) than the officially endorsed location. The reports about “as if from Saurivka” don’t contradict the also southern direction of the alleged launch site as seen from Snizhne.

However, they do show leads to conclude that if you use expressions in social or regular media at face value to confirm preconceived ideas, your method is flawed. The point is, from the same evidence another culpable party could be derived. And when evidence is this ambiguous, it actually is not evidence.

The fact that pro-separatist locals did not post anything, except one message on VK.com group South-East News (see screengrab below), also shows a lead. At least, postings by pro-separatist people – two days earlier cheering along side the road making photos and videos with their phones of a separatist convoy – were not seen by pro-Kiev infowarriors side to copy and disseminate as information that was considered as important (see part 2, section 2.3)

post-south-east-news-VK-buk-16u05

The South East News posting, a singular posting about a Buk in the Donbass on an alleged pro-separatist message board, has some interesting aspects. The photo of a Ukrainian Buk attached was already uploaded on 12:51 local time, as I established by putting it through FotoForensics.com at the time. Also Buk sighting tweeter Roman posted this picture, on 12:53 local time. Roman tweeted to clear up his earlier message about a Buk in Torez: “It looks like a Buk, its top was covered” and attached the picture, which he probably had found on Wikipedia.

Roman Buk foto

The South East News account mentioned a time of 15:08:33, possibly Moscow time as the site usually reported this timezone, so maybe 14:08:33 local time. However, it is not plausible anybody would report tens and hundredths of a second for an actual sighting. So this was probably not the timing of a realtime spotting, but perhaps the exact time of an incoming message to the South East News administrators through the digital highway. Ultimately the last edit by them took place at 16:05 local time (1:05 PM GMT winter time), 15 minutes before the plane was hit.

It is unclear if the relay, a regular information provider with the handle “SD” (as I figured out back then), actually saw something or conjectured based on messages of Wowihay, Roman, Euromaydan or copies that were posted earlier. Speculating, perhaps an administrator of South East News posted the picture of the Wikipedia Buk, almost exactly at the same time Roman did, after (s)he had read one of these sources. Then subsequently (s)he edited the posting, adding the information that was sent on 14:08:33 EEST by SD mentioning “Snizhne”. This person might also have read the earlier postings in which this city featured as the Buk destination location.

Still waiting for sound confirmation, the administrators delayed an hour before they eventually decided to edit the message again, giving it a funny twist by attaching a poll to it (“Bought at the weapons store – For protection from airstrikes [Y/N]”). My speculation presented here, based only on the found item, is at least as good as any.

As to the pre-crash evidence (the few postings and tweets), these “last sources in the chain of information” (dixit WowihaY) were the only ones that could be found after the crash, as there were no accounts from ordinary people nor photos or videos posted before the plane was shot down. In this way the pre-crash accounts of Buk presence are very meagre and first hand accounts posted before the crash are non-existent.

It is conceivable the few sources that were posted on social media before the plane crashed, received their information through a telephone circle that was injected with possibly false information from deceitful parties, related to the Interior Ministry and/or SBU

Wowi telephone circle

@Wowihay posted a screenshot of his smartphone, showing information received about the convoy “Vostok” on July 17th. The information is wrong, by the way. There were moved 3 tanks, instead of 4. And there was no KAMAZ on the road. The fourth military vehicle was an Ural armoured truck. As WowihaY claimed in an interview he was made aware of the Buk transport by someone “well-versed in weaponry”, this obviously was not the same source. Then who supplied WowihaY with the Buk with the “four missiles” information?

 

Therefore it is plausible the infowarriors @WowihaY and Roman and the pro-Kiev news websites “Donetsk is Ukraine!” and Euromaydan FaceBook (if not provided by @WowihaY), could have been used as reliable conduits for disinformation in the case where someone with access to the small circle of confidants would want to sow traces of a trail that never existed. As their only job was to do what they always did, relaying information from better informed sources, there was no need they themselves were involved in a conspiracy, as some people argue

euromaidan

Euromaydan, consistently at the frontline when dissemination of useful information was needed, put a message on Facebook at 12:17 (opening text box)/13:15 (first posting) EEST claiming:

¨In Torez in the direction of Snizhne drives a Buk. Information from local residents

[@Wowihay, (former) Torez local, 12:16: ¨Buk travels through Torez to Snizhne #stopterror”]

Posted 2 minutes later, an updated version appeared, adding to the original message: ¨Accompanied with machines and terrorists¨, alluding to a larger convoy. Later that afternoon they re-uploaded on YouTube a video of the Vostok Donetsk parade on July 10th to back this up

[This probably was another source, as Wowihay got information the Buk and Vostok convoy moved apart. This source alluded to the large Vostok-led Buk convoy, as could have been concluded falsely from the “Khmuryi” conversations. Perhaps two different channels provided Euromaydan; one following the Gerashchenko line of two different convoys and one following the SBU taps/InfoResistance/Tymchuk line that disseminated the info about the larger Buk convoy ].

Another minute later the message was edited again. Now it said: ¨In Torez *towards* Snizhne….¨ which shows a more precise destination

[@MOR2537 (Roman), 12:20: “Missile system was driven on a tractor + two cars through Torez towards Snizhne at 12:10“; Roman may have been provided by the source that followed the Gerashchenko line of the small Buk convoy].

Last edit concerns a press conference of National Security adviser Andrey Lysenko, claiming a Buk was captured on video in the Luhansk area (see also part 3, section 3.4).

 

Probably even @WowihaY, who showed remarkable capabilities for assisting in establishing the trail, is just an enthusiastic Ukrainian nationalist and OSINT hobbyist. As also Anonymous claimed in his interview, mentioned in part 3, @WowihaY geolocated the launchsite at 100 meters away from the Oliphant field, based on the @rescuero plume photo he had tweeted. For this he also used a “second line”, an unknown source with whom subsequently was lost contact, but who had phoned in information at the time – a pretty crude and unconventional way of performing a near exact geolocation, by the way. Nonetheless, even a third witness corroborated.

wowihay-geolocation-plume

It’s not inconceivable that these infowarriors, who were acting according to their beliefs, could be at danger from local authorities or others after their identities became known. Most of the trail providers – except at least Andrey A., maker of the Zuhres video – have been evacuated from the area after the crash, as was confirmed by WowihaY, Anonymous (see part 3) and censor.net editor Yuri Butusov. However, this genuine threat is not able to fully explain some of the observations in the list mentioned below, as has been discussed in part 2, section 2.4.

For the images and videos it has been argued in this blogpost series that most if not all of them somehow were related to the Kropachev-Gerashchenko-Avakov organization in cooperation with the SBU. This is not only valid for the launch plume pictures, the Luhansk video and the Torez imagery, as was claimed by the people involved, ie. respectively, @rescuero/@WowihaY and Anonymous, minister Arsen Avakov and Tornado’s Ruslan Onishchenko backed-up by censor.net editor Yuri Butusov. It is also true for the Zuhres and Snizhne videos, which apparently were made by spotters Andrey A. and Vita V., and which were transmitted to the SBU instantaneously (or possibly at some time before the 17th?). (See part 2, section 2.1).

Imagery from Makiivka was mentioned in an interview with Anonymous as part of the monitoring operations by the covert unit (part 3, section 3.3). According to his testimony this video – though Anonymous talks about “photographs” – allegedly circulated within the organization from the start, but was only announced by WowihaY and disseminated 22 months after the crash.

Finally, from the Paris Match video oozes a scent of suspicious sourcing (part 2, section 2.3) and the Donetsk Buk photo might depict the same Buk as on the Torez imagery, tied to Tornado (part 3, section 3.3).

This adds up to the main observations as are listed below:

  1. 17 July 2014, before the crash, no imagery was reported;
  2. Probably all written sources are second-hand accounts; 2 infowarriors (@WowihaY, @MOR2537/Roman) and 1 proKiev news forum (Donetsk is Ukraine!) were provided by (an) unknown source(s). They were copied by others or relayed to another channel, like was the case with the Euromaydan FaceBook message, that probably was inspired by @WowihaY and was itself copied as well. It is suspected that a few other people who were part of the loosely knit social media community of Donbass infowarriors (@Occupied_Rook, @spice4russia, @HallaHups), mentioned or conjectured Buk drive-throughs based on these messages, never defying the impression that they did not actually themselves see the movement.
  3. After the crash, all original imagery posted on the evening of the 17th was quickly deleted after publication, except the picture of the launch plume;
  4. Only a small part of the entire July 17th-18th Buk route in and out of the Donbass from and to Russia was covered by testimonies. Most parts arrived from the Torez/Snizhne and Donetsk/Makiivka information nodes;
  5. Apparent is the absence of pre-crash pro-separatist witness accounts, or their copies made by pro-Kiev infowarriors, except one written posting from which it is suspected that it did not describe an actual spotting;
  6. In all replies to messages about Buk presence from officials like Avakov, Gerashchenko and Tymchuk not one replying reader confirmed (s)he actually saw the movement.
  7. Obfuscation of the original sources took place, induced by quick deletion and encapsulated by irrational theories and outright lies, even by the JIT regarding the finding of the Andrey T. plume picture (see the upcoming part 5 of this series);
  8. Initially false locations were given for the Luhansk video and the Paris Match images, bringing attention to, respectively, Krasnodon/the Russian border (supporting a story of immediate flight to Russia) and Snizhne (end of the line before launch).

    disinfo Paris Match

    Paris Match still hanging on to “Snizhne” and “Krasnodon”

  9. The secrecy and closed source behaviour of journalists around various parts of the imagery is remarkable; the seemingly planned and coordinated way some parts of the trail were disseminated, in one case with the assistance of a semi-official US source, was as well;
  10. Various parts of the imagery are suspected of tampering, especially – but not limited to – the launch plume pictures and the Paris Match imagery (see social media report part I). In one case this is also suggested by pro-Kiev blogger Ukraine@war (Zuhres video). Other parts may have arrived from footage captured on other days, especially the Luhansk video, but maybe also the Snizhne video as a template for inserting the tiny unzoomed and unfocused Buk vehicle (I proposed July 16th, see here);
  11. Only the videos and photos from sources in direct contact with the JIT probably via the Ukrainian representatives/SBU – have provided the material for conducting a fingerprinting analysis to conclude presence of a Buk from Russia in rebel held territory. The full “Paris Match” video, the Torez video, the high-resolution Makiivka video and the Donetsk photo all arrived at the JIT without first being transferred to social media. The social media material provided the narrative, the “non-OSINT” part allegedly provided the actual proof. Main question before the trial is if authenticity of these parts has been secured in a forensically sound chain of custody.
  12. Interior Ministry/SBU connections to the sources have been established or suspected in most individual parts of the evidence.

4.3 Established media and witness accounts

Of course, for most people it’s acceptable when alleged evidence is mysteriously popping up and labeled as arriving from ordinary citizens, even when it actually came from sources within the secret service. If it’s genuine, it’s genuine. Then they might read this blogpost series as a smart way of gathering and disseminating intelligence.

Higgins 100 procent

Eliot Higgins seems to forget the entire chain of evidence depends on a few white blobs on possibly unauthenticated imagery making a unique Buk “fingerprint”. It is unclear to what extent the JIT performed authentication of the parts of the trail from which a unique Buk fingerpint may have been constructed, and how concise the chain of custody has been preserved.

 

For other people it raises red flags of suspicion. When actual ordinary citizens – those with pro-Kiev or pro-separatist views alike – abstain from posting first hand sightings and images and the evidence after the event seems to be connected to people and organizations that have shown to be capable of manipulation, it is an indication to be very wary and also look for other possibilities. Especially when these people also have a very strong motive to cook up a story.

 

gamechanger-needed

Motive: On July 16th/17th, after the separatists conquered Marynivka near the Russian border, Ukrainian troops got stuck in the “Southern Cauldron”, a piece of land between the separatists and Russia. A gamechanger was desperately needed.

 

alex-kurtov-jackpot

Reply to a message posted by Ukrainian politician Dmitry Tymchuk at the night of the 17th, receiving 47 likes: ¨Ukraine, tonight, in a cynical way, we have hit the jackpot in this war¨

 

Tymchuk 1

@HuSnizhne, an important hub of the informal Donbass based group of pro-Kiev infowarriors, tweeted her conclusion about a message by defense expert Dmitry Tymchuk on July 18th, in which he claimed that the threat of an imminent Russian invasion had subsided after MH17 was downed.

The Maydan massacres in February 2014 led to the ousting of president Yanukovich at the expense of the death of 100 people. The Odessa Trade Union Building massacre led to another 50 deaths. Maybe lives are not that important when you lead “a war between good and evil”, as Anton Gerashchenko phrased it in a FaceBook posting on the evening of the 17th.

 

For the critical reader the way most (pro-)western reporters did their jobs was appalling, to say the least. Some journalists retreated to secrecy, others cooked up witness accounts from next to nothing and dozens published reports with hot air that were sold as evidence of separatist guilt.

With respect to the first observation, three of the reported first hand accounts of the Buk trail – actually, there were not that many more! – were said to originate from journalists, but all sources were anonymous. They were, next to the photos from the Paris Match freelance photographer, witness accounts from a freelance AP reporter and from a local freelance Novaya Gazeta journalist.

Subsequenty it was established that the stills that the Paris Match freelance photographer, Capucine Granier-Deferre, handed over to the magazine, arrived from an unknown source (see part 2. section 2.2 of this series). So only two first-hand witness accounts from journalists remain. From the first one, by an AP freelancer, the identity behind the story became known after I had a twitter conversation with war-time photograper Vasily Maximov. He confirmed the idea that was almost certain, which was that the AP man was the Russian photographer Dmytri Lovetsky (see part 2, section 2.4).

Lovetsky, a Saint-Petersburg resident, has refused to answer questions ever since he was suspected of being the source behind this witness account, which might have had something to do with fear of the Russian authorities. However, the biggest problem is that his testimony pivots around the need for secrecy directive, that is, that the Buk transport was meant to be a secretive operation, which proved to be an implausible story.

His camera allegedly was checked by the Russian crew, and he hadn’t photographed the Buk by then. Furthermore Lovetsky, nor Mstyslav Chernov with whom he toured in the area (they both made pictures of the 17 July Oplot convoy), also did not photograph the Buk when the tiny convoy had moved beyond immediate reach from the intimidating Russian crew dressed in the “unfamiliar fatigues”.

The Novaya Gazeta witness was a local freelance journalist present in the area:

¨On the morning of July 17th the «Buk» was sent to a position in the area of Snizhne. This was observed by locals, around 12.15 our freelance correspondent saw the Buk coming, carrying four rockets.¨

The story, written down a year after the crash on 13 July 2015, displays information also known from the WowihaY tweets (four! missiles). The Buk was not in Snizhne at around 12:15 according to his tweets, but in Torez. However, because these twin cities could account for “the area of Snizhne”, it is plausible the Torez tweets would do just fine to match this story.

The local correspondent in question might be Vladimir D., alias WowihaY, as well – as he worked for the local news network Torez.info and was also called “journalist” in a web based list of pro-Kiev infowarriors. Wowihay certainly knew how to distribute his messages. For instance, he was in contact with Euromaydan on July 17th, 2014, he gave an interview also published in an English translation on the Bellingcat website in 2015 and he was featured in a BBC documentary in 2016. So it is not inconceivable that he was also the source of the Novaya Gazeta article, sustained by the fact the information in the article matched his tweet.

From all first-hand witness accounts, that is, the two mentioned by journalists above, the account from a miner in a 25 July article written by Peter Leonard (also AP) and the two people who featured in a John Sweeny article for BBC Panorama, there is no visual back-up (photos, videos; the witnesses maintain their anonimity). The question is how was it Leonard and Sweeny were led to their center of Snizhne witnesses. It is plausible they were introduced to certain informants by a pro-Kiev fixer, leading to converging but misinformed stories reinforcing each other.

 

Leonard

AP’s Peter Leonard.

Peter Leonard spoke with a 64 year old retired miner who showed him the tracks the Buk allegedly had left on the asphalt of Karapetyan street, which Leonard did not consider to be important enough to photograph. Did Leonard run into this witness who coincidentally was present at the same spot on Karapetyan street as he was on the 17th when he allegedly saw the Buk? Or was a meeting arranged? And who arranged this meeting? Readers might believe some innocent bystander was questioned in a random street interview, but actually we don’t know at all the circumstances needed for assessing the value of this testimony.

The same is true for the witnesses John Sweeny encountered near the Furshet market, where allegedly the Buk was off-loaded in the town square, that, according to a witness “was filled with smoke” from the exhaust of a starting Buk. Probably some fixer or pro-Kiev contact of Sweeny’s arranged a meeting with alleged witnesses from the 17th. From the interview it is clear the first witness is a pro-Kiev Ukrainian to state the crew was Russian by claiming “they” pronounced words in another way than “us”. The second witness verified the “Muscovite” accent of an officer stepping down from a Jeep, not wearing an ordinary separatist rag-tagged uniform, which seems a lot like the Lovetsky testimony.

Sweeny witness

Although John Sweeny may have written down their testimonies word by word, it is not a priori clear these words show genuine information, if one thinks about the circumstances in which these accounts were provided. One might think of the possibility that western reporters would have favoured the other side, the separatist side in the conflict. Then maybe the reporter’s pro-separatist fixer or local contacts might have directed him to negative witness testimonies from people who had been there at the right time but did not see anything.

The assumption that witnesses of certain ideological affiliation were re-routed via a pro-Kiev fixer is not at all beyond possibility. Other examples, mentioned in part 3.1 of this series, are the Business Insider interview with Pavel A. and the interview with Andrey T. on NBC News, both on the evening of the crash. It is not plausible the interviewers found them all on their own, it is beyond assumption the journalists were made aware of their existence by certain intermediairies, presumably, in the two cases mentioned here, the WowihaY-Kropachev-Gerashchenko contacts.

We should be aware of the “mounting evidence” trap, a phenomenon that was explained in part 1 of this series and seems to be present ubiquitously in the opinion making processes in the western media. Especially the way by which time and time again “evidence” was constructed out of thin air from the mouths of separatist sources by engaging in staggering levels of bias and manipulative questioning, was a remarkable aspect of MH17 reporting.

mounting evidence

According to our press corps the question of culpability was solved by the evening of the 17th, and all they had to do as good stenographers was to confirm the narrative. This way a lot of new “evidence” was derived by circular reasoning and misinterpretation based on holding this preconceived dogma. Shortly after the crash many mass media outlets came up with stories about implict admissions of guilt that actually were falsely derived from the words of (pro-)separatist sources. In a blogpost series I wrote about the most influential of these stories [see here]. These cases all show biased and sloppy thinking or even disingenuous intent, but managed to saturate the information space from which western news consumers had to draw their conclusions.

Sticking monolithically to the “mounting evidence” frame, the alleged witness testimonies from ordinary citizens in western newspapers are also filled with biased, preconceived opinion, hear-say, psychological and political inclinations to adhere to established or partisan narratives and unsound reasoning based on a confirmation biased approach and leading of the witnesses. An example of the workings of this line of approach was the intended search for witnesses to back-up the Torez Buk photo.

At least four reports from Torez, from the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, BuzzFeed and The Independent, appeared on the same day, July 22nd, 2014. As it is customary in war journalism, many journalists were probably taken on a field trip together – in this particular case to Gagarin street in Torez, near the Stroi Dom market where from a petrol station opposite allegedly the picture of a Buk was taken by an “activist” of the Kropachev-Gerashchenko unit

4 newspapers in Torez

In The Guardian, BuzzFeed and The Independent articles a witness is mentioned who said that a loud noise of the transport was the thing that triggered their memory. The Guardian writes about a “shopkeeper in one store”, while Buzzfeed says “workers in one store” and The Independent mentions “a woman working in the Sport betting shop” and a collegue she phones.

The Independent is most clear. Its witness didn´t see the origin of the noise, but “heard something heavy passing by”. Probably the Vostok convoy was heard, because a Buk on a trailer, though a very heavy transport, actually does not make a lot of noise. So apparently the accounts alluding to Buk presence because of a loud noise that was heard, stem from a single biased misinterpretation which conflated the Vostok convoy with a phantom Buk movement.

Another set of examples is comprised of the witnesses interviewed near the alleged launch site, living in the tiny settlement of Red October (Chervonyi Zhovten), just south from Snizhne. They all seemed to state conflicting information not at all matching the officially endorsed story, as also was the case with the Zello plume witness @WowihaY retrieved. Mrs Kovalenko from Red October was interviewed many times, but never succeeded to convey a consistent story. Mr. Fedotov from the same settlement revised his testimony over and over again and little Anton, 10 years old at the time, saw wings falling from a plane that desintegrated 28 km away, kilometers above cloud base.

Kovalenko black trail

Mrs. Kovalenko claims in an interview she had with the BBC that she saw a black trail. However, a launched Buk leaves behind a white-light grey trail.

 

Mrs. Kovalenko, Mr. Fedotov and another woman from the village saw something flying right overhead, coming from the south in the direction of Saurivka – which would need the missile to fly in a strange trajectory if the alleged launch site is taken for granted. Perhaps something was launched in the area, but what exactly was launched, when and from where was entirely hazy and mixed up with the fog of war. Therefore, the report on the social media evidenceProblems of the track-a-trail narrative“, that supports this blogpost series, also contains a special section, part III, dedicated to the witness accounts that appeared in (pro-)western media publications.

The general impression is that most of these accounts show unverified, contradicting or unreliable pieces of information. The value witnesses in this case possess may be testified by work done by German Bellingcat-like organization Correct!v.TV, also published by Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad. They found five (!) credible witnesses of an apparent non-event, which was an alleged Buk launch from a site somewhere close to the North-West of Snizhne, a launch site more than 10 km. north from the officially endorsed Ukraine@war/Oliphant field.

Michael Kobs dissected the untruthful reports by Correctiv’s Marcus Bensman, who even got a German award for his faulty fact finding mission and never was corrected by his fellow reporters and OSINT collectives. This is rather ironic, given the name of the agency.

Marcus bensman

Marcus Bensman, member of the “German Bellingcat” Correct!v.TV, found 5 witnesses of a Buk launch in Snizhne-North, 10 km north from the officially endorsed launch field. The Buk that shot the missile came from the 53rd Russian Kursk brigade, according to Correctiv.

 

It is not simple to deny that the witness accounts that appeared in ideologically biased, anti-Russian (pro-)western news organizations, lead to many profound questions. These organizations seem psychologically and ideologically inclined to corroborate the standing narrative that is unfavourable for Russia and therefore fit their tacit or explicit editorial policy. Events and witness accounts have been interpreted accordingly, causing their journalist work to be extremely biased. A notable exception, I must say, is the July 22nd, 2014 article published by The Independent, which showed that it is possible to come up with nothing if there really is nothing to report.

Again, there is no need to suspect conspiracy. Some of the witness accounts found in the regular western media could well have been ¨converged¨ to fit the Buk trail, though not necessarily deliberately. It simply is the way how witness psychology works; one fits his/her memory (or other´s memory) to ¨facts¨ already established or to stories that seem factual, just and fair and match one’s political position [Wiki]. This also works for journalists – or for pro-separatist people experiencing fighter jets for that matter.

By comparison, courts, lawyers and police officers are aware of the ability of third parties to introduce false memories to witnesses [study]. It is obvious our media businesses still have some work to do to grasp these theories – if they really want to play a postive part in providing clear information to the public.

Another profound problem is that for the western news consumer it is not customary to think about the way how witness accounts come about. They have just not learned the skills of how to assess appearance of the aforementioned phenomena, i.e., regarding leading questions [Wiki], a confirmation biased approach, biased interpreting of given answers, witness psychology and the interpretation of the events to conform to a much heard or desired story [Wiki] or incentives to bend truth for personal gains. It is sad to conclude that the professionals of the press as well as the populace in free and democratic countries are not able to wield logical and scientific methods to dissect and assess information provided by social and regular media.

 

4.4 Paranoia or totalitarianism?

What about the JIT? The omens are not that good, actually. The first call for witnesses by the JIT appeared on March 30th, 2015, more than 9 months after the crash. Besides, it seemed to be only looking for witnesses that could confirm the “main scenario”.

The JIT says it has recovered about 200 witnesses, but the question is how reliable these are after (more than) 9 months. Obviously, enough staunch pro-Kiev ultranationalists are willing to testify Buk presence, based on the knowledge they acquired from the media (and possibly through coaching). Others may interpret things they saw to match the leading story that has been repeated over and over again, as their memories got contaminated by those reports.

A fine example is provided by the people from Torez, as discussed above, who heared a loud noise in the early afternoon and also saw Jeeps (a Jeep UAZ was seen on the Torez imagery of the trail). It seems obvious they actually heard the Vostok convoy passing by, and may also have seen the Jeep Patriot with a red license plate that was accompanying the Vostok convoy. In fact, these are not witnesses of a Buk transport at all, though they will be deemed that way by supporters of the leading narrative.

With all known testimonies and written accounts put into question, weakest point for an alternative case is obviously the forced acceptance that all the imagery has been manipulated somehow, that is, misdated, slightly altered or even entirely faked. As for the small alterations, most markers that were used for fingerpint analysis to identify the Russian Buk are tiny white spots of paint on degraded photos and videos. Actually, it is not that hard to supply re-encoded imagery of a Buk in the Donbass with markers that are also apparent on imagery of a Buk travelling in Russia.

The most apparent marker, the second wheel from the left on the right side of the Buk in the Russian convoy from Kursk to Millerovo – the only wheel that was non-spoked – has only been established in the Donbass Buk trail imagery by some crafty shadow casting simulation that was performed on the Tornado Torez video [see from 8:10].

simulatie wiel

Evidence showed by the JIT that the second wheel on the left, as seen on a video of the Buk driving through Torez, is of the unspoked type by doing shadow casting simulations (the two wheels above show the results). Russian Buk 3×2 of the Kursk convoy had the same wheel configuration.

 

Seeing is believing used to be a rule of thumb to go by in the old days. But do we actually see what is told in an age of “deep fake” developments? If one can bring back to life Mona Lisa as if she is a talking person, how difficult might it be to add this kind of fingerprint markers, which for the most part exist of tiny white spots of paint? Or by making animations of images, as I suspected of the Jeep on this same Torez video?

 

Jeep door open

The Jeep UAZ, a vehicle used to verify the Buk convoy, seems to drive (?) with the door open. Actually, the quality of the video is so bad, that it is not possible to see wheels turning. One could imagine this part of the Torez Buk video might have been created with an animated photo of a Jeep standing idle. Then maybe the rest was too.

 

Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins once claimed that it would be preposterous to say that the US provided Makiivka satellite image could have been forged somehow, but that’s exactly what he told us to believe about the Russian satellite imagery (which might even have been true). Is the apparently morally superior western political community exempted of being engaged in creation of falsifications somehow? Looking at the long history of deception by western actors in modern local and global theatres – from the smallpox attack against the North-American natives in the 1830’s to the Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction fakery in 2013 (or the Khan Sheikhun and Douma gas attacks in 2017-8 for that matter) – it is advisable to be utterly critical.

On the satellite image we can see a truck with a white cabin hauling some load and accompanied by two or maybe three cars. There are serious doubts emanating from the impression that the convoy on the satellite image is not the same as the one on the Makiivka video (5 cars), apart from the remarkable sourcing of the video and from the time of publication of the entire information package. Even the truck may actually have been green. See for a list of problems my report “Problems of the track-a-trail evidence, part I.

SAT Buk

The suspicion that most of the other evidence showed some involvement of the Interior Ministry/SBU, means that the probability that manipulation or fakery are involved becomes higher and more plausible – as do weird sourcing and quick retractions. Irrational theories and justifications do not convey the impression that the evidence is actually spontaneous, bottom-up and authentic.

The pro-separatist “conspiracy” throughout the Donbass to post (almost) nothing in pre-crash time might also be a clue there is something strange going on – as is the absence of realtime visuals that were posted before the plane was downed at a time during which the transport drove through densely populated area in broad daylight with sirens on.

Crucial question emanating from the research presented in this blogpost series thus far is whether the Buk convoy was under surveillance or if it was a phantom movement that was partly or completely faked, using some real parts of a convoy (truck, low-loader, Jeep, Van). The first option also puts more pressure on the position of the Ukrainian state in the MH17 case, as Buk surveillance means knowledge and therefore responsability.

Was the Buk convoy – or part of it – under surveillance? Clues and speculations:

Torez photo – covert surveillance operation Tornado

Zuhres video – spotter with SBU contacts

Snizhne T0522 video – spotter, high-resolution version handed over to SBU

Snizhne Karapetyan photo – safe house? See also “1000 days” by Max van der Werff on location

Luhansk video – safe house, SBU/covert surveillance operation

Makiivka video – Tornado? Imagery circulated within reconnaissance unit, says Anonymous

JIT/Paris Match video? – covert surveillance as filmer makes handycam ready for passing by

Torez video – covert surveillance operation Tornado

Donetsk photo – also Tornado? (same Buk as on Torez imagery)

 

In part 3 we have archived a set of manipulations of information linked to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry and the SBU; We know from a study conducted by Sergey Mastepanov that the Interior Ministry probably retained experts for creating fake imagery. He also proved it could be done by himself creating fake Buk imagery.

Was social media used as a “cleaning layer” to whitewash “evidence” from suspicion as it originated in the intel community, but was presented to the general public, the media and politicians as if it was generated by ordinary people? Was this some kind of an experiment to test if an ordinary citizens/social media/OSINT narrative could not only fundamentally influence the perception of the media audiences, but also of reporters, politicians, official bodies and judges, even before a trial was instated?

Lewis 2

One needs to embrace a profound level of confirmation bias to establish perpetrators from dissemination of a few tweets and visuals alone.

 

Doing research I observed a phenomenon that I coined “the mounting evidence trap”. It says that confirmation bias only invites more confirmation bias, and in this way ratcheting up in a self-reinforcing process, pushing away sound critical attitudes and questions and counter evidence. Could it be true the public, including reporters and politicians, have been fooled all along, just because the incentives for dogmatic Group Think and political correctness in line with the needs of the Washington-led Empire are so all-encompassing in our societies?

It is apparent that the foundations for culpability already have been laid down firmly in a “trial by media”, so to speak. No-one could think about a situation any more, in which the judges would not come up with conviction, as the atmosphere produced by media coverage and public conduct by the JIT is such that this trial has been degraded to be a technical matter only. In the Netherlands a politician of the conservative party VVD did not ask the question if the people indicted could be found guilty based on sound evidence, but how we were going to punish them, rendering the legal procedure a superfluous show trial.

VVD convics before trial

When a society goes through these developments, surely totalitarianism has arrived.

Een gedachte over “MH17 and OSINT, a suspicious narrative, part 4 – Donbass Buk phantom or fact?

  1. Pingback: 07.11.2019 – Syria: 1496 dzień sprzątania świata… | KODŁUCH

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