The Interpreter reports: When regular watchers of the news from the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” saw the latest dispatch on 17 July from Col. Igor Strelkov, the self-appointed “Defense Minister” of the DPR, they realized that the pro-Russian separatists didn’t know yet what had happened.
Donetsk commander Strelkov, longtime Russian agent, claimed credit today for shooting plane he thought was Ukrainian pic.twitter.com/L4tuxLOmj9
— Anne Applebaum (@anneapplebaum) July 17, 2014
Here is a translation by The Interpreter of the dispatch as it originally appeared at Svodki Strelkova Igora Ivanovicha, or “Igor Ivanovich Strelkov’s Dispatches”, a community at the popular Russian social networking site VKontakte:
“In the area of Torez, we have just shot down an AN-26 airplane, 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 an SU.”
As we reported 17 July, this post that originally appeared on the “Strelkov’s Dispatches” VKontakte group showed that the pro-Russian separatists were boasting about having downed yet another Ukrainian airplane — or maybe even two — just as they had done on 14 July with a powerful anti-aircraft system in Krasnodon.
As this apparent admission of the downing of the plane seemed to be a smoking gun in the tragedy of the Malaysian airline, it has come under much scrutiny as possibly a “fake” or just a blog post of an unofficial Strelkov fan group that might be prone to erroneous postings.
From our long observation of this Vkontakte group and other Strelkov-related pages, we would have to say this is not the case – this group’s publications have long been cited by regional media and the same talking points as the dispatch were also used by Russian state media and Ukrainian media from other separatist sources. [Continue reading…]