21 October 2018
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Letter to the Editor of The Washington Post by Mr. Dmitry Polyanskiy, First Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN

Dear Mr. Baron, 

I have to address you with regard to the article entitled “A dispatch from the fight against Russian disinformation – and a place where truth is winning” by Mr. Philip Bump, published  in “The Washington Post” on 25 July 2018, which mentions me personally in the context of a very sensible topic for us – investigation of 2014 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash in Ukraine.

I would like to stress that I am writing this letter in my personal capacity and I am not directly involved in relevant investigative efforts on our side. But even the information that is available in open sources which could be traced by any researcher allows me to make the conclusions that I make.

I would not conceal that I was very much disappointed by this publication which clearly does not meet the standards of an unbiased journalist report. Its main message is to illustrate alleged “Russian efforts to undercut findings” of “independent investigators” and “propaganda efforts of Russian government” in general. Needless to say that the article proceeds from the assumption that Russia was behind the downing of MH17 and all our efforts are aimed just at covering up the culprits.

I completely disagree with such a narrative and want to clarify several key points in this regard.

Since the very beginning Russia was and continues to be genuinely interested in discovering the truth about this tragic event. We supported all the efforts to conduct full and transparent investigation, we exercised our influence on Donbass rebels who, despite very difficult combat situation caused by the Ukrainian authorities’ obsession to punish their own citizens by military force for their desire to preserve their language and culture, provided unhindered and full access to the crash site. All those who wanted to visit it had the opportunity to do so. Every material evidence was also gathered and transported to the Netherlands for the needs of investigation.

We from our side provided a lot of information and material to the investigation team, in particular primary radar data. Upon its request Russia disclosed classified information on Buk missiles 9M38 and 9M38M1. Our producer of this ammunition “Almaz-Antey” also modeled the incident and widely shared technical data and the conclusions of this simulation. The Dutch side is also aware of a lot of witness accounts of people living in this area. We expressed and continue to express our readiness to join the group of investigators.

Nevertheless, the Dutch investigators since the very beginning showed particular distrust to our findings and contribution. Russian experts were excluded from their work. Much of the data that we provided was ignored and disregarded in the reports. The trend was very clear – to ignore everything that exposed Ukrainian responsibility for the downing of MH17 and to encourage every claim, be it undocumented or even absurd, that Russia or “Russian-backed rebels” were behind it. It is enough to indicate that the investigators do not press the US to provide satellite data from the day and the site of the crush (Americans publicly confirmed that they possess such data, but it is “classified”) and accept the refusal of Ukraine to provide primary radar data under laughable pretext. Refusal of Ukrainian authorities to close the airspace over the Eastern part of the country at the day of the crash despite ongoing military operation of Ukrainian forces there which is hard to explain by any logic is also disregarded.

In the absence of any trustworthy proofs that “Russians did it” the Dutch investigators started to rely more and more on social media and on the findings of investigator groups like Bellingcat which is in the center of the article. To us the whole idea to use social media accounts as a proof in any investigation is extremely bizarre and doubtful. In our days it is not a problem any more to fake any video or photo with easily available software. We also have a lot of reasons not to trust particularly Bellingcat which was repeatedly caught red-handed by Internet users by voicing anti-Russian or anti-Syrian allegations based on fakes. And these fakes are largely exposed in the Web. Internet users have a lot of questions about Bellingcat financing, important American and Western funds that traditionally support anti-Russian campaigns are said to be the main sponsors of these “investigators”, which casts obvious doubt on their impartiality.

Besides, there are a lot of other Internet social-media investigators on the Web who claim things opposite to the “findings” of Bellingcat that clearly indicate that Ukraine is behind the downing of MH17. Why are they ignored while Bellingcat accounts are praised and unquestioned?

I personally tried to engage with Bellingcat through my Twitter account @dpol_un. But the moment I doubted their impartiality and illustrated (upon their request) that they produce fakes I faced a vicious verbal attack from them, including their founder Elliot Higgins who, as was claimed in the article “earned international attention for his exhaustive – and accurate – analysis...”. First of all, they said that I do not exist and called me “Kremlin bot” – a usual tactics for those who disrespect the opinion of the others on the Web.
I have to say that this “journalist hero” of yours disappointed me most of all sending personal insults through Twitter. I enclose some of the snapshots for your reference. After the bellingcats, their trolls and bots continued to insult me, I had to blacklist some of them, including Higgins. Of course, no apologies followed up to today which is very illustrative of quality of their “work”.

How can “responsible investigators” behave like this? There are hundreds of Internet users who already exposed their lies and all the bellingcats do is attack and bully these users. They just do not have other arguments besides insults and pathetic lies. I believe that the fact that you praise their efforts and close the eyes on all the numerous substantiated claims that they produce fakes is not becoming to the reputation of your distinguished paper. Nor it gives any credit to the Dutch investigators.

But let’s put aside the bellingcats, let their conscience judge them, they obviously do not deserve so much attention. What worries me most of all is that after four years of the MH17 tragic accident we are still very far from establishing the truth. Unfortunately, the recent push of the Joint Investigation Team to hold Russia responsible on the basis of bellingcats’ findings, inconclusive and missing data from Ukraine and US and with total disregard of our data and documents is another step in this totally wrong direction.
And the attempts to exploit the feelings of the relatives of the victims, mobilize them in support of these unsubstantiated claims are absolutely immoral.

My country remains ready to join international investigative efforts to find the truth about MH17 crash. We are also consistently supporting the efforts to find those responsible of this crime and bring them to justice. Russia must be part of the investigation team and not its object – nobody has cancelled the presumption
of innocence principle. What we do not accept are ultimatums and fakes.

Given the fact that my name was quoted in the abovementioned article in a very dubious context I respectfully ask you to publish my letter in your newspaper. I will also make it open and publish it on the website of our Permanent Mission.


Sincerely yours,


Dmitry Polyanskiy

First Deputy Permanent Representative 



15.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the ties between “Bellingcat” and secret services

Question: Russian officials claim that “Bellingcat” is connected to intelligence agencies of the Western countries, but do not present any evidence of such ties. Doesn’t such approach contradict Russia’s position on the Salisbury incident, the MH-17 catastrophe and other notable cases, where the Russian government is continuously demanding to publish proofs of accusations? Answer: There is no contradiction. The fact that “Bellingcat” is affiliated to the intelligence services is obvious considering the whole range of relevant circumstances: date of its foundation (several days prior to the MH-17 catastrophe), nature of published information (which combines signs of intelligence data and highly professional fakes), its orientation (always anti-Russian), timeline of publications (each time at the best moment from the point of view of interests of NATO countries), biography of its leader (Elliot Higgins suddenly turned from a PC gamer into an “icon of independent journalism), non-transparency of its internal structure and financing. If “Bellingcat” can provide any other plausible explanation for such combination of facts, it should be presented to the public.

15.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the British government calls to step up anti-Russian sanctions

Question: How would you comment on the news that the British government has been lobbying a new EU sanctions regime against Russian nationals allegedly involved in use of chemical weapons and cyber-attacks in Europe? Answer: We have taken note of the respective statement by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt of 14 October and the relevant media reports. These suggest that, faced with an imminent Brexit, the British government makes every effort to step up the sanctions pressure on Russia and to complicate as much as possible Russia-EU relations after Brexit.

13.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the investigation of the death of Nikolay Glushkov

Q.: 12 October marks seven months since the death of Nikolay Glushkov. Does the Embassy have any new information on this case? A.: Unfortunately, once again we have to state that the British side continues to evade any sort of cooperation with Russia with regard to the investigation of the death of former Deputy Director General of “Aeroflot” Mr Glushkov that occurred on British soil on 12 March. The British authorities continue to ignore numerous Russian requests, including the official request of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation for legal assistance in the criminal case opened in Russia into the Nikolay Glushkov’s death. There are no answers to the Embassy’s proposals to arrange a meeting or consultations between the Investigative Committee, Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation experts and the Metropolitan Police representatives.

12.10.2018 - Ambassador Yakovenko’s introductory remarks at the press-conference on 12 October 2018

Ladies and gentlemen, In recent weeks we have received a number of media requests concerning the current state of bilateral affairs between Russia and the United Kingdom. I am also often asked how numerous anti-Russian statements by the British officials influence our approach towards the UK. Considering this, I have decided to invite you today to make respective short comments on these issues and answer your additional questions. Currently the relations between Russia and the UK are at a very low level. The reason for that lies in an aggressive anti-Ru ssian campaign launched by the current Tory government and supported by the British media.

09.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the new Bellingcat’s investigation

Question: How would you comment on Bellingcat’s claims that it has “tracked down Alexander Petrov’s real identity”? Answer: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has recently advised us to consider such publications and statements as a display of freedom of public debate into which the UK Government does not interfere. There have already been reports that the Home Office and Metropolitan Police would not comment on these “speculations”. This is exactly the case when we should follow the example of our British colleagues.

08.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the UK authorities’ reaction to Russia’s official requests following recent flagrant media publications

Question: The Embassy declared its intent to request clarifications from the British side following the recent accusations of cyberattacks, and the media reports on preparations for retaliatory cyberstrikes against targets in Russia. Has there been any response? Answer: Today we have received a reply from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which implies that, as before, the British side is not going to provide us with any details that may serve as the basis of the accusations. In this case, we are not in a position to make comments on the essence of those accusations.

05.10.2018 - Embassy comment on another groundless British accusation against Russia

On 4 October, UK Permanent Representative to OPCW Peter Wilson speaking on behalf of Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan claimed that the “GRU” allegedly “attempted to compromise UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office computer systems via a spear phishing attack” and “targeted computers of the UK Defence and Science Technology Laboratory”. The same day the UK National Cyber Security Centre stated that “multiple email accounts belonging to a small UK-based TV station were accessed and content stolen” and “the GRU was almost certainly responsible”.Today, the Embassy has forwarded a Note Verbale to the FCO demanding that the UK Government produces and immediately shares with the Russian side hard evidence and proofs supporting those claims, and informs about sources used to draw such conclusions. We have reminded, in particular, that Russia had repeatedly proposed expert consultations on cybersecurity in order to address UK’s concerns, if any.

04.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the BBC journalist Mark Urban’s book on Sergei Skripal

Q.: How would you comment on the Mark Urban’s book on Sergei Skripal published on 4 October? A.: We intend yet to study this book. At the same time, it is a well known fact that Mark Urban has close links with British secret services. This gives us grounds for considering this book as an attempt to compensate for Sergei Skripal’s public non-appearance as the key witness to the Salisbury incident. Instead of facts, the public is again offered speculation and guesses.

04.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the recent anti-Russian statement by the Foreign Office

Question: How would you comment on today’s statement by the Foreign Office accusing Russia of worldwide cyber-attacks on massive scale? Answer: This statement is reckless. It has become a tradition for such claims to lack any evidence. It is yet another element of the anti-Russian campaign by the UK Government.

03.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question on INF Treaty

Question: How would you comment on the latest statements by US officials on Russia’s alleged non-compliance with INF Treaty? Answer: Russia has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty). The US allegations of Russian non-compliance relate to one particular missile type. While we have assured Washington on multiple occasions that the mentioned missile does not violate INF, the US has never explained the exact reasons of their preoccupation. These allegations divert attention from the American actions that are breaching a number of INF provisions.

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