Even as the world's attention is gripped by the latest airline crash tragedy, in which the motivation of a Germanwings co-pilot to crash his plane with nearly 150 people on board will forever remain in the area of speculation, the most dramatic airplane incident of 2014, that of Malaysian flight MH-17 over east Ukraine, remains - and likewise will will remain forever - unsolved. That, however, does not prevent the media outlets on both sides of the ideological divide to insert their own narrative when the fancy strikes them.
Case in point is the "Exclusive" Reuters report by Anton Zverev from March 12, titled "From 'Red October' village, new evidence on downing of Malaysian plane over Ukraine" which featured what Reuters suggested was new evidence on the downing of the Malaysia Airlines plane. In it Zverev quoted Pyotr Fedotov, a 58-year-old resident from the village of Chervonyi Zhovten "which was then, and is now, controlled by the rebels."
My mother and I were in the yard when it happened," said Pyotr Fedotov, a 58-year-old resident. "There was such a bang that we involuntarily sat down, in the yard, our legs gave way underneath us. Then we got curious and immediately went to the other side of the house to take a look." This is what Reuters said two weeks ago:
"The rocket was here, it wiggled around, then some kind of rocket stage separated, and then, somewhere toward Lutuhyne, Torez, I saw the plane fall apart in the air. It was only later that we found out it was a Boeing,” Fedotov said.
Missiles from a BUK battery can often zig-zag through the air for a few seconds after launch before their onboard radar locks on and steers the missile towards the target, according to video footage of test launches posted on the Internet.
Taken together, the accounts do not conclusively prove the missile launched from near Chervonyi Zhovten was the one that brought down the airliner, because none of the villagers saw it actually being launched.
Nor could they shed light on a contention of officials in Kiev and in Western states, that the BUK missile battery was brought in from Russia and was operated by a Russian crew. Moscow has denied its military is active in eastern Ukraine.
So far no smoking gun, or rocket, merely a retelling of what is largely known. And here Reuters reveals the punchline:
When interviewed by Reuters, Fedotov, the witness who described the 'wiggling' rocket, at first said on camera that it was fired from territory held by the Ukrainian army. Later, off camera, he said it was launched from a nearby rebel area. Asked why he had originally said the opposite, he said it was because he was afraid of the rebels.
Why he said the contradictory "missing link" in the narrative, and the one piece of the story that gives Reuters its "new evidence", off camera is not explained.
Today we may have an answer: in a follow up report by Russian RT, the same villager, Pytor Fedotov on camera said that the Reuters news agency falsified his testimony on the missile launch which brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
As the following interview with Fedotov reveals, the Reuters report may have been "less than accurate" with his testimony.
“When we talked about the Boeing on camera, I explained everything as I saw it. The things that I allegedly said off-camera, all this nonsense, was made up by the journalist himself. It's all lies, because off-camera, we never discussed the Boeing, and just spoke about life, about the current situation, so to speak.” Fedotov told RT.
The Lugansk resident added that Zverev later contacted him to ask if the he had gotten in trouble for speaking with the journalist.
"The first thing that he asked was whether I had gotten in trouble. I was really surprised. Why would I be in trouble if I told him about things as I saw them? And only when my friends called me up and told me that some channel was airing footage which noted that I said one thing on camera and the opposite without the camera did I understand why he was asking me this question."
Stating that the so-called off-camera testimony was merely conjecture, Fedotov stated that he doesn't understand why the journalist would fiddle with his testimony. "Maybe he was doing it for his own benefit…I really don't know what his aim was, but it looks to me like a provocation."
RT noted that its requests for comment from Reuters on the controversy have not been responded to.
Who is lying, and who is telling the truth? We probably won't know, just as there will never be conclusive proof of just who took down Malaysia flight MH-17 leading to the tragic death of over 200 innocent civilians. And while perhaps Reuters will address the charge that it purposefully fabricated a critical missing part of the story and reveal its own documented side of the story, we doubt it. After all, the narrative of the Ukraine civil war and its participants has long ago devolved beyond the facts and is now nothing more than propaganda.