Who Shot Down MH17? The Conspiracy Files


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Who Shot Down MH17?

With eyewitness testimonies, satellite photographs, wire taps, clandestine videos and expert evidence, Conspiracy Files investigates who shot down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.


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A summer's day in eastern Ukraine.

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A Boeing 777 suddenly breaks up in midair.

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All 298 people on board are killed.

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It's the worst air disaster for two decades,

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and it comes just four months after

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the mysterious disappearance of another Malaysian airliner.

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The official account says a powerful ground-to-air missile hit the plane.

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But rival theories and relentless questions

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saturate the media and the internet.

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Why do many witnesses talk of seeing other planes?

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And why didn't anyone see a missile?

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All the people have mobiles and cameras.

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They are not living in Stone Age.

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There must be something.

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We don't have American satellite images.

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We don't have the testimonies of the air controllers.

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I think there are still more questions than answers.

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It's very strange that, a whole day, nobody has images from that period.

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Who's hiding? Who's hiding what?

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Things are hidden, that's for sure.

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Is this the fighter pilot who shot down MH17?

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Or was a missile fired from a Russian-made missile launcher?

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We tracked the secret witnesses

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and meet the spooks, to try to sort fact from fiction.

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They say every country lies, including our own.

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The task is, whoever lies first, wins.

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Well, we won!

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Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 took off just after midday

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from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, bound for Kuala Lumpur.

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The Boeing 777 had a crew of 15.

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There were 283 passengers on board.

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What they didn't know was

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their flight was about to take them over a war zone.

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Russian-backed rebels were engaged in a bitter fight

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against the Ukrainian army.

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Two-thirds of the passengers were Dutch.

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Bryce Fredriksz and his girlfriend, Daisy Oehlers,

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were on a dream holiday to Bali.

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Bryce was 23,

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working as a cook.

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He was with Daisy for the last three years,

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and Daisy also lived in our house.

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They were really fond of each other.

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Bryce turned form a wild boy into a caring, loving young man.

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And...Bryce wanted to show Daisy Bali,

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and they wanted to have a good time.

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Visit friends and family over there.

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They never made it.

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The world stopped turning.

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Bam.

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BBC NEWS THEME A passenger jet with 295 people...

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A Malaysia Airlines passenger plane has crashed...

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A whole multitude of questions as to what has caused this crash.

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298 people from around the world lost their lives,

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including 80 children.

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The judgment was instant.

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We have enormous input about this which points fingers.

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It's pretty clear that this is a system

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that was transferred from Russia,

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in the hands of separatists.

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The disaster happened in the midst of a bitter civil war.

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The Ukrainian government was quick to claim these pictures prove

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this Russian Buk or SA-11 missile launcher was responsible.

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The weight of evidence is pointing in one direction.

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MH17 was shot down by an SA-11 missile fired by separatists.

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This is a defining moment for Russia.

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The world is watching.

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Shooting down a civilian aircraft was the final straw.

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Sweeping sanctions were soon agreed against Russia.

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Over 15 months, the Dutch Safety Board

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painstakingly reconstructed part of the plane.

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The official report concluded

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a single, powerful ground-to-air missile hit MH17.

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In less than a minute, a Russian-made Buk missile

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travelled around 15 miles.

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It exploded a few feet from the cockpit of MH17...

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..sending more than 800 pieces of shrapnel ripping through the plane.

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The wreckage was eventually scattered

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over nearly 20 square miles.

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The finger of blame was now fixed on Russia

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and the pro-Russian rebels.

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But from the very start there were many other views.

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Oleg Vitulkin lived nearby,

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and he was the first photographer on the scene.

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We can only show some of his photographs.

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Oleg is a member of the pro-Russian rebel militia.

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He rejects the western account.

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TRANSLATED:

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Oleg didn't see a plane that could have shot down MH17.

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There are others who say they did.

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Natasha Voronina was sitting right underneath

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the point at which MH17 disintegrated.

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TRANSLATED:

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And nearby, Igor heard something strange.

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Before long, theories about what really happened

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swept across the internet.

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One independent journalist joined the hunt for clues.

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Billy Six spent four months in Ukraine.

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He interviewed more than 100 people in the rebel controlled area

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around the crash site.

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Most of them talked about rumours, of course,

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but it was surprising for me to hear that

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nobody talked about rumour referring to the launch of a Buk missile.

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But many, all of them spoke, there must have been an airplane.

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RECORDING PLAYS

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Seven people told him they saw a fighter jet on the day MH17 crashed.

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They described it as a point in the sky which was shining,

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and one of them told me he even saw how it launched a missile.

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It was like a small line on the sky, going into the clouds,

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and then he heard the big boom.

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All of these 100, more than 100 I talked to,

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thought that it was a fighter jet from the Ukrainian side.

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But the official report dismissed the idea that another plane could

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have brought down MH17.

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Investigators found a mass of different shaped shrapnel.

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They argue only a powerful ground-to-air missile

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could be responsible.

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Crucially, they also found two unique bow-tie shaped fragments

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that are only found in one Russian-made warhead.

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They found 72 of those fragments,

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and only two of them are bow-tie.

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And another two cubic. So I would like to see the other 68 pieces,

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because that could have happened randomly, that it looks like it.

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Billy thinks two fighter jets could have shot down MH17.

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It looks, for me, that there was one fighter jet

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shooting from the back with a canon

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into the cockpit, in order to destroy the crew and the technology,

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and then another fighter jet fired with a radar-based

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air-to-air missile from the front

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and broke away the cockpit.

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With the west imposing tough sanctions

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and accusing Russia of mass murder,

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the time had come for the Kremlin to hit back.

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Just four days after the crash,

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the Russian Ministry Of Defence launched its salvo.

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Two of Russia's most senior generals accused Ukraine.

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They claimed Ukraine deliberately pushed MH17 off its flight path

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and into the war zone.

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TRANSLATION: Please, pay attention that up to Donetsk area,

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the aircraft flew in the determined corridor,

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and then it deviated from its route to the north.

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And they showed a recording of the Russian radar.

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SPEAKING IN RUSSIAN

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TRANSLATION: There is new mark of an aircraft to be seen.

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They said this momentary blip revealed

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a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet.

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SPEAKING IN RUSSIAN

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TRANSLATION: Ukrainian aircraft climbing to the

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direction of Malaysian Boeing 77.

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It is supposed that it was Su-25.

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The general said the Su-25 carries missiles guaranteed to hit targets

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within a range of three miles,

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and the Malaysian airliner was already in range.

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This was nonsense. Absolute nonsense.

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I mean, the Su-25 is a

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close-air support aircraft,

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so it is designed to operate at low altitude

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to engage tanks and other equipment on the ground.

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It's not designed to operate at high altitude to shoot down aircraft.

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It's effectively a flying tank.

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It doesn't have a pressurised cockpit, so the pilot won't

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be able to survive at that altitude for very long,

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you know, at 33,000 feet, where MH17 was flying.

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But Russia soon had an answer.

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It came from the Kremlin-funded

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international news network Russia Today.

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Its slogan is, "question more".

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Yana Erlashova is one of its star reporters.

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I don't push any scenarios or theories.

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I just report what people say.

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We have a lot of witnesses who saw jet fighters,

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and I still think that this is one of the scenarios

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that should be at least considered.

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You cannot ignore, you know, um, people's testimonies.

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So Yana staged an extraordinary experiment,

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and the Russian Air Force showed the Su-25 is capable

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of reaching 33,000 feet, or 10,000 metres.

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TRANSLATED:

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I spoke to experts who said it could be possible. They say that

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it's not easy, but it's possible.

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Another Russian documentary offered an even more dramatic demonstration.

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TRANSLATED:

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Su-25 don't carry very heavy missiles,

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but they carry massive missiles that can harm,

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you know, an aeroplane, that can bring big damage to a flying object.

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TRANSLATED:

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They claimed the damage matched that on MH17.

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There are experts, there are pilots who consider this theory.

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It's absolutely ignored in the west,

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so I'm trying to give people food for thought.

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But every expert we spoke to say this heavily armoured

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jet can only reach 33,000 feet by discarding its weapons,

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and firing a weapon would cause it to stall.

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It's slower than MH17 was, than a Boeing 777,

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so it couldn't catch up with MH17.

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It doesn't operate the kind of missile systems

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that were used to shoot down MH17,

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it only operates heat-seeking missiles,

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and short-range ones at that.

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So the entire idea about, that the Su-25 might have been responsible

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is completely fanciful.

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But then a shocking new allegation surfaced in Moscow.

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A secret witness walked into a newspaper office.

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He claimed to have worked in the Ukrainian Air Force,

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and he named the pilot of an Su-25 he said shot down MH17.

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TRANSLATED:

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We tracked down the pilot named by the Russian newspaper

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to an airfield in southern Ukraine.

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TRANSLATED:

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The secret witness was revealed to be a mechanic

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who worked at the same base as the pilot.

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Russia Today showed Evgeny Agapov

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talking to the Russian equivalent of the FBI.

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But the pilot says Agapov lied about what happened

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on the day MH17 crashed.

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But Russian TV claims to have the smoking gun.

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Russia's most popular TV station, Channel One,

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broadcast an incredible satellite photograph showing

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a different fighter jet at the exact moment

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when it fired a missile at MH17.

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But by now, every claim and counter-claim

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was being picked over online.

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It was a clear fake, and it took about an hour

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for, kind of, the online community looking at MH17

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to completely tear this thing apart.

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This former office worker has started out blogging anonymously.

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Just three days before MH17 crashed,

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he set up a website called Bellingcat.

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With a few volunteers,

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they scour websites, blogs and social media posts,

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and they analysed the Russian TV images.

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The satellite image itself of the ground appears to be

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composite images from different websites

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that have satellite imagery.

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MH17 is in the wrong position.

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The text on the side of the plane is in the wrong position, too.

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And there's more.

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If that was actually flying, it would be about four miles long,

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based off the perspective between the camera and the ground.

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Or it would be a normal sized aircraft

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that was 300 metres away from the satellite,

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which would be quite an incredible achievement.

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And it just, when you look at all these different elements and you,

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like, think about it and actually try and verify stuff

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it just falls apart immediately.

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But what about the witnesses who described seeing other planes

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right next to MH17 when it crashed?

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It turns out many other witnesses are just as adamant

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they didn't see any other planes that day.

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One farmer was tending his cows

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right underneath where the Boeing crashed to the ground.

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TRANSLATED:

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Vitali had a clear view of MH17,

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but he didn't see any other aircraft nearby at the time of the crash.

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So what could explain the Russian military's claim that

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another plane was briefly visible on their radar?

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SPEAKING IN RUSSIAN

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TRANSLATION: And at this point,

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there is another aircraft. It is Boeing 777 mark.

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I've seen a lot of radar data

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in my time as an investigator.

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When aircraft break up in midair,

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some of the time they continue to transmit radar data on the way down.

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They may well change direction

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because they've lost the tail, or something like that,

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so they don't have the stability to carry on in a straight line.

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We know MH17 broke up into a number of large pieces.

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Could that explain why many witnesses in the area describe

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seeing small planes flying in different directions?

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The official report said a fighter jet

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could not have caused the damage to MH17.

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And anyway, there were no fighter jets nearby.

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Apart from that short blip, even the Russian radar video showed nothing.

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But we'll never know for sure,

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because Russia has never provided the raw, primary radar data.

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And, strangely, Ukraine said all its primary radar was

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switched off that day.

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As the war of words between the two superpowers escalated,

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the relatives were powerless,

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the dead, abandoned.

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The first days were like hell,

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because we knew the bodies were in the sun.

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That was horrible.

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They had no respect at all.

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No-one gave us the opportunity to

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recover the bodies.

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For months, this crime scene lay open and exposed.

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Eventually, after three months,

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Daisy's cousin, Robbie Oehlers,

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was allowed to visit the crash site.

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By now, most of the victims had been recovered.

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But not all.

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I was looking for Daisy's remains

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and Daisy's stuff,

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because she was not identified and

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the family was frustrated, we wanted to find her.

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So I was trying to find her suitcase,

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her clothes, her... Anything that belonged to her.

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When I got there I found more than I wanted.

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The first few metres I was walking,

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you could already see people's belongings lying on the ground.

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And, um, first you smell the kerosene,

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and then you start to hear voices in your head.

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Really, you're, like you were in this crash.

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Then I found this child's game in a cardboard box,

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and when I opened it I saw the name of the child inside

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and that's where, where the ground just, uh...

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..fell beneath me. Was gone. I couldn't walk

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and I had to take a few minutes for myself.

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It's horrible.

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Four months after the crash,

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the investigators finally started recovering the wreckage.

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But that didn't stop the conspiracy theories.

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Much of the Russian media

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doubt a ground-to-air Buk missile was involved at all.

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Yana Erlashova said she tried hard to find evidence

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of the huge missile being launched.

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I literally knocked on every door

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and I said, "OK, so, where's that Buk missile?

0:26:080:26:10

"It was somewhere in your area, you must have heard something.

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"You must have..." You know, I did it this...

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Reverse psychology or whatever you call this,

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for people to be, you know, like, to say honestly what they...

0:26:190:26:23

But I had no luck.

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But near where it is now thought that missile was launched,

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we found one woman with an intriguing story to tell.

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And she comes from the even more intriguingly named village

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of Red October.

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TRANSLATED:

0:26:510:26:52

But as it flew past her, she realised it wasn't a crashing plane.

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It was a missile being launched.

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And she didn't see any other planes close by that day.

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What she actually saw was unique.

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But could someone fire a massive missile

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without anyone taking a picture of it?

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Three hours after the crash,

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two photographs were posted on social media.

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They claim to show the distant plume of smoke

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from the missile that brought down MH17.

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The photos were taken by a man from this housing estate,

0:28:190:28:22

seven miles north-west of Valentina's village of Red October.

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But some think the photos are fakes.

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They say the wires in this photo prove it.

0:28:340:28:37

The wires are on the roof,

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but he took this picture, not from the roof.

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He took it from his balcony.

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I totally disagree with that. We've seen images of

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that side of the building with those cables above the balcony,

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you know, just in exactly the right position to be caught on camera.

0:28:510:28:55

Those cables are there. One's quite rigid, the other's quite droopy.

0:28:550:28:59

That is visible on images.

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But Yana went to look for herself.

0:29:020:29:04

He says that he looked out of the window and he saw the plume.

0:29:060:29:09

But there is no window in his apartment facing, uh, that area.

0:29:090:29:15

The photographer's balcony is at the back of this block of flats,

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and we discovered that, in the distance,

0:29:230:29:26

you can see the launch location near Red October,

0:29:260:29:29

to the left of the distinctive hill,

0:29:290:29:32

which you can clearly see in the photo.

0:29:320:29:34

You could absolutely see the launch location from that position.

0:29:380:29:41

I think sometimes people see, you know, the things they want to see,

0:29:410:29:44

and don't see the things they don't want to see.

0:29:440:29:46

We tracked down the man

0:29:500:29:52

who published the photos on the internet.

0:29:520:29:54

A network of volunteers sends him

0:29:540:29:56

information about rebel military movements.

0:29:560:30:00

His identity is disguised for security reasons.

0:30:000:30:03

So if MH17 was shot down by a missile and not a plane,

0:31:020:31:06

who pulled the trigger?

0:31:060:31:08

A second theory agrees MH17 was shot down by a missile.

0:31:090:31:14

But this one argues that missile was fired by the Ukrainian Army,

0:31:140:31:18

not the Russians.

0:31:180:31:20

And it gets backing from an unlikely source.

0:31:210:31:25

Ray McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years.

0:31:250:31:29

He is convinced that the official enquiry covered up the truth.

0:31:290:31:33

I don't believe it was an independent investigation.

0:31:340:31:38

Why did the black boxes end up...in Britain?!

0:31:380:31:43

Nobody else can analyse black boxes?

0:31:430:31:46

I have an Irish heritage, and my grandfather told me one time,

0:31:460:31:50

IRISH ACCENT: "Raymond, do you know why the sun

0:31:500:31:52

"never sets on the British Empire?"

0:31:520:31:55

I said, "Yeah, I know."

0:31:550:31:56

He said, "You don't know, sit down and I will tell you!

0:31:560:31:58

"The sun never sets on the British Empire

0:31:580:32:01

"because the Good Lord would never trust the British in the dark."

0:32:010:32:05

Well, I don't trust the British with the black boxes.

0:32:050:32:09

The US government says it has secret photos showing

0:32:100:32:14

a Russian Buk launcher firing a missile,

0:32:140:32:17

but it has refused to publish them.

0:32:170:32:19

Don't tell anyone that we have intelligence that shows

0:32:200:32:25

that the Russians gave them a Buk missile, cos we don't, OK?

0:32:250:32:29

And these things are 16 feet long, right? And we would have.

0:32:290:32:33

Instead, Ray McGovern claims sources within the CIA

0:32:380:32:42

believe Ukraine might be to blame.

0:32:420:32:46

Some of the intelligence analysts thought that it was fired from

0:32:460:32:50

a Ukrainian site and that it could have been a rogue kind of thing.

0:32:500:32:57

There was said to be some satellite photography showing

0:32:570:33:01

bottles of beer around one of the sites.

0:33:010:33:06

What is certain is the Ukrainian Army did have

0:33:060:33:10

the exact type of Buk missiles that are said to have shot down MH17.

0:33:100:33:14

The Ukrainians have Russian missiles, for Pete's sake.

0:33:160:33:18

So the propaganda effort here was pretty effusive

0:33:180:33:21

and pretty noxious,

0:33:210:33:23

and it clearly was seized upon by those who wish to paint Putin

0:33:230:33:29

in the blackest of colours and those who wanted to impose sanctions.

0:33:290:33:34

While the CIA has refused to produce satellite images,

0:33:450:33:48

the Russians have released theirs.

0:33:480:33:51

MAN SPEAKS RUSSIAN

0:33:510:33:53

The Russian Ministry of Defence say these images show

0:33:560:33:59

the Ukrainian Army missile launcher

0:33:590:34:01

first at a military base...

0:34:010:34:02

..then on the day of the crash

0:34:050:34:06

at a front-line Ukrainian Army position.

0:34:060:34:09

MAN CONTINUES IN RUSSIAN

0:34:110:34:14

And this is that location. But there is just one problem.

0:34:200:34:24

The details just don't match,

0:34:250:34:27

it doesn't seem to be taken on the same day.

0:34:270:34:29

You have clear examples where they have used imagery

0:34:290:34:32

from several weeks earlier.

0:34:320:34:34

The Russian satellite images show the Ukrainian missile launcher

0:34:350:34:39

having left its base.

0:34:390:34:42

But it is still there in a DigitalGlobe image

0:34:420:34:44

we know was taken on the day MH17 was shot down.

0:34:440:34:48

In fact, as we looked at this imagery more and more,

0:34:550:34:57

it became very, very clear that this imagery

0:34:570:34:59

from the Russian Ministry of Defence

0:34:590:35:01

was not from July 17th at all, it was actually from the start of June.

0:35:010:35:04

Not a single witness has come forward about this launch site.

0:35:060:35:09

What's more, it appears this location wasn't

0:35:110:35:14

even held by the Ukrainian Army.

0:35:140:35:16

So, you know, unless they were firing invisible missiles

0:35:170:35:20

from invisible missile launchers that snuck past

0:35:200:35:23

rebel checkpoints, this is not the launch site.

0:35:230:35:26

A clearer picture of what really happened could now be emerging.

0:35:320:35:36

On the morning of the shoot down, a Russian Buk missile launcher

0:35:410:35:44

was seen leaving the rebel-held city of Donetsk.

0:35:440:35:47

The launcher was photographed as it was carried out

0:35:490:35:52

of the city on the back of a lorry at about

0:35:520:35:54

11 in the morning.

0:35:540:35:55

The online investigators Bellingcat pinpointed

0:35:560:35:59

the exact location by identifying this lamppost -

0:35:590:36:04

the way the wires are connected,

0:36:040:36:05

the shape of the trees and the road markings.

0:36:050:36:08

But not everyone is convinced.

0:36:080:36:10

None of it is credible.

0:36:100:36:12

All these reports about seeing Buk missiles on the road,

0:36:120:36:16

those have been shown to be spurious,

0:36:160:36:18

they have been shown to be doctored.

0:36:180:36:19

But there are a whole series of photos, videos

0:36:220:36:25

and social media posts published at the time.

0:36:250:36:29

They all talk about the same missile launcher as it headed east

0:36:290:36:32

through rebel-held territory.

0:36:320:36:34

20 miles down the road it was filmed again,

0:36:370:36:41

on the back of that same lorry.

0:36:410:36:43

Four hours before the crash, the missile launcher was seen

0:36:460:36:49

parked opposite a petrol station in the next town.

0:36:490:36:52

Around three hours before the crash,

0:37:120:37:14

the launcher heads south out of the town of Snezhnoye.

0:37:140:37:18

The likely launch location is just a few miles down this road.

0:37:180:37:22

So we can track this missile launcher from Donetsk,

0:37:240:37:27

and then we saw it travelling south out of town,

0:37:270:37:30

then we have information from social media,

0:37:300:37:33

a photograph showing this smoke, it all points to one location

0:37:330:37:37

that is a few kilometres south of the location

0:37:370:37:40

this last image of the Buk missile launcher was taken.

0:37:400:37:42

And here is that location.

0:37:440:37:46

In a field just a mile east of Red October.

0:37:460:37:49

It falls in the middle of the area

0:37:500:37:52

identified by the official report.

0:37:520:37:54

This whole area was controlled by the pro-Russian rebels.

0:37:550:37:59

And there is one more piece of evidence that backs that up.

0:37:590:38:04

Launching the Buk missile generates searing temperatures.

0:38:040:38:07

And tellingly, this photograph of burnt grass

0:38:070:38:10

was taken in that same field just the few days after the crash.

0:38:100:38:15

And there is one critical video of the same launcher

0:38:220:38:25

on the morning after MH17 was shot down.

0:38:250:38:29

Now missing one missile and heading back towards Russia.

0:38:290:38:32

Once again, the Russian Ministry of Defence say that is a lie.

0:38:340:38:38

They claim it actually shows a Ukrainian launcher

0:38:390:38:42

on Ukrainian territory.

0:38:420:38:44

So the freelance journalist, Billy Six,

0:38:450:38:48

set out to find the true location.

0:38:480:38:50

And he found the Russian claim didn't stack up.

0:38:500:38:54

IN GERMAN:

0:38:540:38:56

Time and time again,

0:39:020:39:03

you look at the Russian Ministry of Defence evidence

0:39:030:39:05

and it looks incredibly suspicious, because they have lied,

0:39:050:39:08

they have faked images, they have misled people on purpose.

0:39:080:39:12

They lied about the flight path - the Dutch Safety Board reports have

0:39:120:39:15

confirmed that - they lied about the radar data,

0:39:150:39:17

they faked satellite map imagery...

0:39:170:39:19

And this is a few days after 298 people have been killed,

0:39:190:39:23

and they're just lying to the families of those people.

0:39:230:39:26

Really quite disgusting.

0:39:260:39:28

But can we really believe Bellingcat's blogs and social media,

0:39:290:39:32

rather than the Russian Ministry of Defence?

0:39:320:39:36

The burden of proof is on those who would cite social media,

0:39:360:39:39

especially from this Bellingcat fella there,

0:39:390:39:42

whatever the name is there,

0:39:420:39:44

in the penthouse up there in London or wherever he is.

0:39:440:39:47

I mean, who pays him?

0:39:470:39:51

It's a criticism that has also been made by Russia Today.

0:39:510:39:54

Bellingcat is run by Eliot Higgins,

0:39:560:39:58

a 36-year-old laid-off office worker.

0:39:580:40:00

He initially gained a web following

0:40:000:40:02

and attention from the mainstream media by analysing

0:40:020:40:05

arms in the Syrian conflict, despite having no experience in that field,

0:40:050:40:09

or any higher education for that matter.

0:40:090:40:11

He even confessed that what he knew about weapons

0:40:110:40:14

came from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rambo.

0:40:140:40:17

He sounds very much like somebody that MI6 or my old friends...

0:40:170:40:22

We say, "We need somebody to get into social media."

0:40:220:40:26

Everything that he has said has come to naught

0:40:260:40:30

that could be proven one way or the other.

0:40:300:40:32

There's lots of people who see, "Well, you are a stooge,

0:40:320:40:35

"you are working for the CIA, you are working for MI6."

0:40:350:40:37

I would be incredibly well-paid if I was

0:40:370:40:39

working for the people that they say I am.

0:40:390:40:41

The entire point of the way we work is we give as much information

0:40:410:40:44

as possible, and this isn't us saying,

0:40:440:40:46

"Oh, we've got this secret source."

0:40:460:40:48

I build up this whole kind of pattern of information,

0:40:480:40:50

and I invite people to look at it.

0:40:500:40:52

VOICEOVER IN RUSSIAN

0:40:550:40:57

But no-one beats the Russians for the sheer quantity

0:40:580:41:01

of information released.

0:41:010:41:04

In this slick video, the manufacturer of the Buk missile

0:41:040:41:07

argued it must have been fired by the Ukrainian Army.

0:41:070:41:11

The manufacturer said this distinctive missile was no longer

0:41:150:41:18

in the service of the Russian Army.

0:41:180:41:22

But what is this over President Putin's shoulder?

0:41:220:41:26

This photograph was taken in 2013, and in 2015, those same missiles

0:41:260:41:31

were proudly displayed at a May Day parade in Siberia.

0:41:310:41:35

At least until one of the launchers caught fire.

0:41:360:41:39

Not to be put off,

0:41:420:41:43

the manufacturer responded with some dramatic experiments.

0:41:430:41:47

And the manufacturer had more surprises to come.

0:41:500:41:53

We are using the special supercomputer device

0:41:550:41:57

and made over 14 million combinations.

0:41:570:42:02

Now they said the missile was even older,

0:42:020:42:05

and this one was definitely not in Russian service.

0:42:050:42:09

Well, it is not scientific to be honest, because the idea is to

0:42:110:42:16

avoid detailed discussion, providing excessive amount of details.

0:42:160:42:22

VOICEOVER CONTINUES

0:42:220:42:24

So the idea is to kill the truth, that is the smokescreen.

0:42:290:42:34

But conspiracy theories about MH17 go much further

0:42:420:42:45

than just accusing Ukraine.

0:42:450:42:47

Sergei Sokolov is a private investigator.

0:42:510:42:54

He says he now has a network of 150 agents, and he claims to

0:42:550:43:00

have evidence of a massive international criminal conspiracy.

0:43:000:43:05

While the wreckage was still burning,

0:43:260:43:28

one of his agents arrived to gather evidence.

0:43:280:43:31

Instead, they make the astonishing claim that two bombs

0:43:510:43:55

were planted inside MH17.

0:43:550:43:58

Now this tale gets darker still.

0:44:100:44:12

He says a rogue agent in the Ukrainian Secret Service sold him

0:44:140:44:18

an astounding telephone intercept.

0:44:180:44:20

And he claims to have uncovered the motive.

0:45:020:45:05

'Hi. Hello.'

0:45:350:45:37

This is the secret recording that is supposed to prove

0:45:370:45:40

this massive CIA-led conspiracy.

0:45:400:45:43

'How are the preparations?

0:45:450:45:47

'Everything, I mean everything, has gone according to plan.'

0:45:470:45:51

They even named one of the alleged American spies as David Stern.

0:45:510:45:56

He is in fact a journalist for the BBC.

0:45:560:45:59

'This is very important, it is critical that there are no leaks.

0:45:590:46:03

'Nah, don't worry, we understand.

0:46:030:46:05

'Excellent, excellent, goodbye.'

0:46:050:46:08

Unfortunately, the man with the very English accent...

0:46:080:46:11

'Nah, don't worry, we understand.'

0:46:110:46:14

..is actually quite clearly an American.

0:46:140:46:17

Svoboda's numbers are still relatively small.

0:46:170:46:21

Nonetheless, its popularity is unquestionably rising.

0:46:210:46:25

They do like conspiracy theories,

0:46:250:46:26

but when you think about the number of people that would have

0:46:260:46:29

been involved both on the American side and the Ukrainian side,

0:46:290:46:33

it is not the kind of operation

0:46:330:46:35

that would have been able to be kept secret.

0:46:350:46:38

It would have come out.

0:46:380:46:39

I personally tend to believe in Ockham's razor,

0:46:390:46:41

which basically says, "If you have got a complicated situation

0:46:410:46:44

"and there are two theories, the simplest theory is the more likely."

0:46:440:46:48

And there are a few technical problems too.

0:46:480:46:51

The curved outer panels of the aircraft have been

0:46:520:46:55

deformed inwards by all sorts of marks.

0:46:550:46:57

Much like taking a 12-bore shotgun and shooting at a piece

0:46:570:47:00

of metal, you get the marks in one particular direction.

0:47:000:47:04

So it was fairly evident that the metal is bent inwards

0:47:040:47:06

into the aeroplane rather than explosive,

0:47:060:47:10

outwards defamation of the aeroplane,

0:47:100:47:12

so the bomb theory has been discounted fairly easily

0:47:120:47:15

from the physical evidence on-site.

0:47:150:47:17

So what's going on?

0:47:220:47:24

Why have so many theories been produced

0:47:240:47:26

and where are they coming from?

0:47:260:47:29

Most have emerged from Russia.

0:47:290:47:31

Prezident Rossiyskoy Federatsii...

0:47:330:47:36

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

0:47:360:47:38

One former Russian TV producer has tracked how the Kremlin has adapted

0:47:410:47:45

the doctrine of "Maskirovka", or military deception,

0:47:450:47:49

for the digital age.

0:47:490:47:51

Vladimir Putin has complete control over the Russian media.

0:47:510:47:55

Russian TV now works essentially like a cult will work,

0:47:550:47:59

so nonstop conspiracy theories.

0:47:590:48:01

The idea is just to pulverise people's heads.

0:48:010:48:04

Because when you try to keep up with these conspiracy theories,

0:48:040:48:07

your own critical thinking breaks down.

0:48:070:48:09

So the main thing for the Kremlin is to define what

0:48:090:48:11

people talk about publicly, what they don't talk about publicly.

0:48:110:48:14

That's much more important than the truth.

0:48:140:48:17

If you look at the major television networks,

0:48:170:48:19

if you look at Russia Today, or RT,

0:48:190:48:21

it seems to be very clear that they are operating as an arm

0:48:210:48:24

of the Kremlin and are designed to put out a Russian propaganda line.

0:48:240:48:28

The goal here is to put out lots of different theories

0:48:280:48:31

to raise smoke, to raise dust and to raise confusion,

0:48:310:48:35

and hopefully persuade people that there is no truth here.

0:48:350:48:38

Neither the Russian Foreign Ministry nor

0:48:390:48:41

the manufacturer of the missile would talk to us.

0:48:410:48:45

The Russian government rejects

0:48:450:48:47

any responsibility for the MH17 crash.

0:48:470:48:49

But many have expressed understandable scepticism

0:48:510:48:54

at Russian claims about Ukraine.

0:48:540:48:56

Initially, Russia denied having any soldiers anywhere in Ukraine.

0:49:000:49:04

President Putin himself said, "The guys who are taking over Crimea,

0:49:070:49:10

"they are not Russian soldiers, they are locals."

0:49:100:49:12

And then in April, he says, "Yeah, they were Russian soldiers."

0:49:120:49:15

And he presents in the Kremlin commendations to

0:49:150:49:18

the Russian commanders of those forces.

0:49:180:49:20

Now, why we should accept his denial now that

0:49:200:49:23

Russian forces are in eastern Ukraine,

0:49:230:49:25

I just don't understand that.

0:49:250:49:27

We have seen this show before.

0:49:270:49:28

The beleaguered Ukrainian government is eager to

0:49:330:49:35

turn the tables on Russia.

0:49:350:49:37

Russians will try to present their own version of truth.

0:49:390:49:44

Because there is no truth in Russia.

0:49:440:49:47

And the reason is simple as it is.

0:49:470:49:49

They know who committed this crime.

0:49:490:49:51

And they are scared of being brought to justice.

0:49:530:49:56

But the Ukrainian government was not let off the hook.

0:49:580:50:02

The official report criticised Ukraine for failing to close

0:50:020:50:05

the airspace over the warzone to civilian aircraft.

0:50:050:50:09

Even though its own planes had been shot down.

0:50:090:50:12

We fully implemented all the regulations

0:50:130:50:16

and we worked in accordance with ordinary practice.

0:50:160:50:20

Let me put aside the conspiracy,

0:50:200:50:22

let's talk only about the facts.

0:50:220:50:24

MH17 was shot down by the missile system.

0:50:260:50:30

The system was made in Russia.

0:50:310:50:34

The system was supplied by Russians.

0:50:340:50:37

The system was operated by those in the know.

0:50:370:50:41

And Russia knows this.

0:50:420:50:44

Why these innocent people have been killed is due to the fact

0:50:440:50:48

that Russians supplied a surface-to-air missile system

0:50:480:50:54

to Russian-led terrorists,

0:50:540:50:56

and they committed this crime.

0:50:560:50:58

A team of criminal investigators led by the Dutch

0:51:000:51:04

and assisted by Ukrainians, Belgians and Australians

0:51:040:51:06

is now tasked with finding the culprits.

0:51:060:51:10

But there is already a mass of evidence pointing not just

0:51:110:51:14

to the pro-Russian rebels, but also to Russia itself.

0:51:140:51:18

An important clue lies inside these vehicles.

0:51:200:51:24

The Ukrainian Army showed us a Buk missile system.

0:51:250:51:28

Normally there are a number of different vehicles,

0:51:280:51:31

including radar and command units.

0:51:310:51:35

But MH17 is thought to have been shot down by

0:51:350:51:38

a solitary missile launcher using its in-built radar.

0:51:380:51:43

It is impossible to operate it without any training.

0:51:430:51:45

If you don't know the meaning of every switch

0:51:450:51:48

and every indicator, you just cannot switch it on.

0:51:480:51:51

It points to some professional military,

0:51:510:51:53

professional operators of these sorts of systems.

0:51:530:51:56

And professionals, they have been sitting

0:51:560:51:58

on the Russian side of the border.

0:51:580:52:00

So the online investigators Bellingcat

0:52:040:52:06

traced the secret movements

0:52:060:52:08

of the Russian Army, and they did so by just looking at

0:52:080:52:11

the social media posts of passing drivers and soldiers themselves.

0:52:110:52:16

They tracked a large convoy

0:52:210:52:23

from the Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade

0:52:230:52:26

as it headed from Kursk in western Russia

0:52:260:52:28

towards the Ukrainian border.

0:52:280:52:31

All this just a month before the MH17 crash.

0:52:320:52:35

It's actually remarkable how much information

0:52:370:52:39

we have been able to find.

0:52:390:52:40

We can actually read the number plates,

0:52:400:52:42

and it was from the Moscow military region,

0:52:420:52:44

and there was only one air defence brigade in that region.

0:52:440:52:47

And we found hundreds of social media accounts belonging

0:52:470:52:50

to soldiers of that brigade.

0:52:500:52:53

And then Bellingcat said they made a breakthrough.

0:52:530:52:56

They spotted in the convoy the same missile launcher that had been

0:52:560:53:00

seen on the day of the crash in eastern Ukraine.

0:53:000:53:04

Its markings look the same, partially obscured,

0:53:040:53:07

but with the numbers "3" and "2" just visible.

0:53:070:53:10

We can name many of the soldiers who were part of the convoy,

0:53:130:53:17

we can say who the commanders were.

0:53:170:53:19

We can't say, "This is the guy who pressed the button", but we can

0:53:190:53:22

certainly give a list of people the police should be speaking to.

0:53:220:53:26

And there is a reason Russian soldiers, tanks

0:53:260:53:28

and now even missile launchers were heading west.

0:53:280:53:33

By the summer of 2014, the pro-Russian rebels

0:53:340:53:38

were under siege from the ground and from the air.

0:53:380:53:41

GUNFIRE

0:53:410:53:42

Just two days before MH17 crashed, a few miles to the North,

0:53:450:53:49

this apartment block was hit by Ukrainian jets.

0:53:490:53:53

11 civilians where killed, including a child.

0:53:550:53:58

The rebels relied on increasingly powerful ground-to-air missiles.

0:54:010:54:05

In the three days before MH17 crashed, a transport plane

0:54:050:54:09

and an Su-25 flying at 20,000 feet were shot down.

0:54:090:54:14

The rebels themselves had no air force.

0:54:160:54:19

There was no air threat to Ukraine.

0:54:220:54:25

And Ukraine wasn't deploying air defence units to the fighting,

0:54:250:54:28

because it didn't need them.

0:54:280:54:29

The only air defence units being deployed to the fighting

0:54:290:54:32

were by the rebels, because Ukraine has an air force

0:54:320:54:35

and was using it in the fighting.

0:54:350:54:36

The Dutch investigators have published a phone conversation

0:54:360:54:40

intercepted by the Ukrainian security service.

0:54:400:54:43

A rebel soldier called Bezler is heard talking to, allegedly,

0:54:430:54:48

a serving Russian military officer.

0:54:480:54:50

A few minutes later, the rebel military commander, Igor Strelkov,

0:55:080:55:12

posted online that the rebels had shot down

0:55:120:55:14

a large Ukrainian military transport plane.

0:55:140:55:17

"We just took down an Antonov 26. We warned you - do not fly in our sky."

0:55:190:55:24

And he suggested an Su-25 might also have been shot down.

0:55:240:55:29

Strelkov's post was soon deleted

0:55:320:55:34

and he later denied claiming any responsibility.

0:55:340:55:37

But in one video, rebel soldiers arrive at the crash scene,

0:55:380:55:42

and they can be heard talking about a Ukrainian fighter jet.

0:55:420:55:45

Sushka is the nickname for an Su-25.

0:55:540:55:58

I don't think that the separatists or whoever is launching that

0:55:580:56:02

Buk missile intended to shoot down a civilian airliner,

0:56:020:56:05

they thought they were shooting down a Ukrainian military aircraft,

0:56:050:56:09

but they didn't check, and they still bear responsibility.

0:56:090:56:12

The fight for justice for the victims of MH17

0:56:180:56:23

is slow and tortuous.

0:56:230:56:25

It's all the worse because this tragedy is now central to

0:56:250:56:29

a bitter proxy war between Russia and the West

0:56:290:56:32

over the future of Ukraine.

0:56:320:56:34

There's a whole lot of war going on on the social media

0:56:360:56:39

about this MH17 situation.

0:56:390:56:43

They seem to lose the whole point of why we want to know who did it.

0:56:430:56:47

Not because we want to point fingers at somebody,

0:56:470:56:50

but because they murdered innocent people.

0:56:500:56:53

I don't believe the propaganda.

0:57:010:57:02

We've heard so many stories from the Russian side,

0:57:040:57:07

they come up with a story every now and then, so...

0:57:070:57:10

I don't believe anything Russia says.

0:57:120:57:15

And Ukraine, I don't know, I don't trust Ukraine as well.

0:57:170:57:20

Silene has kept Bryce and Daisy's bedroom as they left it.

0:57:240:57:28

That's the last thing we have from them.

0:57:300:57:33

If I should change the room, it will mean to me that they didn't exist.

0:57:350:57:41

Many questions have been answered.

0:57:460:57:49

But the task of bringing those responsible to justice

0:57:500:57:54

has a long way to go.

0:57:540:57:55

We'll go to the end. Yeah.

0:57:550:57:58

Until the day I close my eyes, I will keep fighting for the truth.

0:57:590:58:04

And justice.

0:58:040:58:05

WIND HOWLS

0:58:140:58:16

Look how far we've come.

0:58:580:59:01

It's a family united.

0:59:010:59:03

The Russians have made contact.

0:59:030:59:06

They are very dangerous people.

0:59:060:59:09

So are we.

0:59:090:59:10

When Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew, a storm of conspiracy theories was unleashed across social media. While the official inquiries have pointed the finger of blame at separatist fighters and their Russian backers, a host of different theories claim the Ukrainian government, and even the CIA, were to blame.

With revealing eyewitness testimonies, satellite photographs, wire taps, clandestine videos and expert evidence, Conspiracy Files tries to sort the fact from the fiction. In a world where the information war fought online can be just as significant as battles on the ground, this film also analyses the role of the Kremlin in the search for the truth about who shot down MH17.