Small majority of Russians want to pay MH17 relatives damages

MH17
The Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site in Ukraine. Source: Twitter/ @mashableThe Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site in Ukraine. Source: Twitter/ @mashable

A small majority of 55 percent of Russian citizens "agree" or "completely gree" that Russia should pay grief damages to the relatives of the people killed when MH17 was shot down should international investigation show that Russia was responsible for the disaster,Trouw reports based on a poll by Leiden University and Raam op Rusland among 1,600 Russians.

The vast majority of Russian citizens still don't think that Russia was responsible for the disaster, though the proportion of those who do is increasing. In 2015 about 2 percent of Russians thought their country was guilty. Now it is about 10 percent. 53 percent the Ukraine army bears the responsibility for shooting down the Malaysia Airlines flight.

Three quarters of the respondents support the Russian government's political course, despite the sanctions imposed on the country after the MH17 disaster for allegedly violating international law in Ukraine and Crimea. A quarter think that Russia should pay grief money to get the sanctions lifted. 

THE MH17 CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION:

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17th, 2014. All 298 people on board, including 196 Dutch, were killed. In June 2019 the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) announced that the criminal trial against the first four suspects in this case - three Russians and one Ukrainian - will start on March 9th, 2020. The trial is expected to take over a year

Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy, Oleg Pulatov, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko are suspected of playing crucial roles in delivering the missile system that shot down MH17. They will be prosecuted for causing the crash and leading to the death of everyone on board. They are also facing charges of murdering 298 passengers and crew members of MH17.

Investigation by the Dutch Safety Board and JIT previously revealed that the Malaysian Airlines flight was shot down by a BUK missile system from the 53rd Anti-aircraft Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces, fired from a field in Ukraine that was under the control of pro-Russian separatists at the time.

In addition to the JIT criminal investigation, the Netherlands is also in talks with Russia about state liability. The Netherlands and Australia officially held Russia accountable for its role in the MH17 disaster - providing the BUK missile system with which the passenger plane was downed. 

According to the JIT, Russia is not cooperating with the investigation into the disaster, refusing to respond to requests for legal assistance. “We now have the information, have the proof, that the Russian Federation is involved in this tragedy, in this crime, one way or another.” Dutch Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said in the press conference in June. 

Following the announcement of the first four suspects' prosecution,  the Russian Federation denounced the  "biased, one-sided nature of the inquiry". Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security announced that the Netherlands took "diplomatic steps" against Russia, in an attempt to force the country to cooperate with the JIT.

In February 2020, Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security announced that Russia requested to handle the prosecution of the three Russians suspects. Grapperhaus informed Moscow that this is not an option, he said. 

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