MH17 relatives want apology from Wilders for declaring friendship with Russia

Geert Wilders in Duma, Russia, 27 Feb 2018
Geert Wilders in Duma, Russia, 27 Feb 2018Photo: @geertwilderspvv / Twitter

Vliegramp MH17, the foundation that represents the relatives of people who died in the MH17 disaster, is furious at PVV leader Geert Wilders for wearing a Russian-Dutch friendship pin on his suit during a visit to Duma in Russia on Tuesday. The next of kin want an apology from Wilders, the foundation said in a tweet.

Wilders tweeted a picture of the pin. "I proudly wear it here. A Russian-Dutch friendship pin", the PVV leader said. 

"Vliegramp MH17 forcibly rejects the action of Mr. Wilders. RF [the Russian Federation] is involved in the murder of 298 civilians. Emphasizing friendship with Russia by a member of parliament is inappropriate", the foundation tweeted. 

"We demand apologies from Wilders, this can not be allowed. That he declares love for Russia, while Russia is involved in the disaster", Piet Ploeg, who lost his brother, sister-in-law and nephew in the disaster, said to RTL Nieuws. He speaks on behalf of the relatives. 

Individual relatives also expressed their displeasure. "What a disgusting expression! Unworthy of a Dutch representative of the people!", Thomas Schansman, who lost his son when flight MH17 was shot down, said on Twitter. 

Schansman also wrote a letter to Wilders, saying that he read the tweet of the pin with "restrained anger", according to NOS. "My son was on the plane, the MH17, that was shot down on 17 July 2014 by a Russian BUK missile. My son was murdered with 297 other innocent passengers. And nobody has accepted the responsibility for this gruesome act." he wrote. "It is known to us all where the murder weapon came from: the country where you wore the flag with such pride/joy. A more than horrible spectacle for a Dutch representative. Shocking. A heavy insult to the address of many, many surviving relatives. In the Netherlands and in the rest of the world. I disapprove of your action and expect you to apologize to all relatives. On Twitter. In public."

Wilders visited Russian parliament on Tuesday. He spoke to a vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and members of committees in Russian parliament, he said on Twitter. According to the PVV leader, they discussed all kinds of social issues. "Of course I also said that we expect full cooperation with regard to MH17."

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17th, 2014. All 298 people on board the plane were killed, including 196 Dutch. So far investigation revealed that the Boeing 777 was shot down by a BUK missile system, fired from a field in Ukraine that was under the control of pro-Russian separatists at the time. Investigators also managed to track the transport of the BUK missile from Russia to the field and back.