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Russian Government Edits Wikipedia On Flight MH17 667

Posted by samzenpus
from the writing-history dept.
An anonymous reader writes A political battle has broken out on Wikipedia over an entry relating to the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, with the Russian government reportedly removing sections which accuse it of providing 'terrorists' with missiles that were used to down the civilian airliner. A Twitter bot which monitors edits made to the online encyclopedia from Russian government IP addresses spotted that changes are being made to a page relating to the crash. All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) changed a Russian language version of a page listing civil aviation accidents to say that "The plane was shot down by Ukrainian soldiers." That edit replaced text – written just an hour earlier – which said MH17 had been shot down "by terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic with Buk system missiles, which the terrorists received from the Russian Federation."
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Russian Government Edits Wikipedia On Flight MH17

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 20, 2014 @06:35PM (#47496873)

    The US government never admitted it's mistake, or apologised. It reached an ex gratia settlement with no admission of liability or fault years later.

    And it, and 13 other supporters in the security council, entirely blamed Iran at the time, saying that if Iran had only respected the security council resolution to stop fighting, then it wouldn't have put that flight in risk.

    Check your history. It might surprise you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 20, 2014 @06:43PM (#47496915)

    Actually the US "STILL" hasn't admitted fault in that incident. They blamed it on the hostilities in Iran and then proceeded to cover up the whole incident as best they could, like the location of the ship, breach of orders, no court marshal despite blatant crew failings etc.

  • by Oligonicella (659917) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @06:55PM (#47496993)

    Current reports are that Russia is helping to destroy on ground evidence.

  • by Jason Coombs, CEO (3755591) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @06:59PM (#47497031)
    Twitter bots that monitor and call attention to things, or future AI tools we develop that provide similar functionality for monitoring what appears to be the cyber behavior of certain groups or certain people, have a downside, too. Everyone knows it isn't very hard for somebody with substantial financial resources (or a sysadmin who works at a particular ISP and has substantial political beliefs or alliances) to spoof the IP addresses that are thought to be associated with certain groups/nations. This evolving condition of intrinsic uncertainty around digital media and Internet communications needs new technical and social solutions. See: http://slashdot.org/submission... [slashdot.org]
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@ l y n x.bc.ca> on Sunday July 20, 2014 @08:15PM (#47497473) Journal

    Why would soldiers waste expensive missiles for some irrelevant passenger plane?

    Why, indeed... and part of the reason why I don't think that this was done as any official act by either nation.

    Why would be there a plane over a warzone in the first place?

    Apparently, before takeoff, the aircraft was explicitly told that the route was safe to fly over.

    When you perform a terrorist act you tell that YOU did it in order to intimidate. You don't deny you did it.

    I think that would depend on whether or not the uncertainty and the slinging of accusations from all sides better serves their interest than the fear it might generate if they knew who did it. I strongly suspect that the actual perpetrators are sitting back and watching the fireworks right now... hoping it will eventually escalate to the point that they'll be too busy fighting eachother to notice what the group is *really* up to.

  • by Scott Ragen (3378093) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @08:25PM (#47497515)

    The World Trade center isn't a government site by any stretch of the imagination. It is also believed the original intended targets were nuclear power plants which demonstrates these targets were picked to incite fear into Americans. This comment probably isn't going to be popular (Nor do I condone any of their actions), but the Pentagon and US Capitol attacks were strategic (foolish, but strategic) and could be classified as freedom fighters since they were fighting against their aggressors, but as soon as they also picked the WTC (along with their motive) and Bali Bombings that crossed the line into terrorism.

    Also, when I say a government site, I mean one with strategic military command (pentagon, CIA, DOD, Whitehouse), not for example NASA, FBI, Local/State Governments, etc.

    ugh, I know I'm going to suffer for this unpopular comment

  • by loonycyborg (1262242) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @08:27PM (#47497523)
    You got that wrong. Putin is merely a populist. Many people on Ukraine got shafted after partition of Soviet Union and they want to go back. All past Ukrainian governments just failed to give them what they want and they got tired of it. It's not Russian government's fault that they failed to find a peaceful arrangement, but it's not surprising it's trying to exploit the situation. It's just taking pointers from US's government.
  • by pipatron (966506) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Sunday July 20, 2014 @08:29PM (#47497529) Homepage

    The plane was 10km up. It wasn't shot down by something bought for $50,000 from Bob's Quality Used Implements of Death and Destruction and delivered to you by a courier van. The suspected weapon system [wikipedia.org] requires at minimum one tank sized tracked launcher vehicle, and for full capability it requires three such vehicles. This is way out of Bob the arms dealer's league. Although I'm pretty much guessing here, the missile alone I expect would cost over a million dollars to manufacture.

    You mean something like http://www.mortarinvestments.e... [mortarinvestments.eu]

  • by jc42 (318812) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @08:37PM (#47497565) Homepage Journal

    "Terrorist" is the wrong word, it's obvious from the intercepts this was a tactical error on someone's part.

    Terrorism isn't defined by actions so much as the reason. For the love of Jebus, it has a well understood meaning folks, look it up.

    That may have been true 10 or 20 years ago. Nowadays, here in the US and in many other countries, the common media and governmental meaning of "terrorist" is now "anyone we don't like".

    This is a rather familiar sort of linguistic change that has happened to many other words in the past. There's not a whole lot we can do to persuade people to stick with the original definitions. After all, we can't even persuade people to stop using "literally" to mean "figuratively". What's our chance of persuading politicians that they shouldn't similarly retarget handy insult words to refer to their opponents?

  • by rubycodez (864176) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @08:38PM (#47497571)

    no he is former KGB who has his KGB buddies in charge of state controlled business and senior government positions, and built up the new KGB, the FSB

  • by Darinbob (1142669) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @08:39PM (#47497577)

    The one overhead conversation, which may or may not be real, indicates someone thought it was a military plane, possibly spy plane. At that height no binoculars from the ground would have any details.

  • by Sasayaki (1096761) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @10:52PM (#47498143)

    FatLittleMonkey is correct, the Ukraine has many Buk SAM systems. The one that allegedly shot down MH-17, however, appears at the present time to be a Russian-supplied and crewed loaner to the separatists they are backing.

    Not that a Ukrainian error of identification would have been any more or less tragic, although it's less plausible since the separatists are not operating any air assets that I'm aware of so the Ukrainians are much more likely to be very conservative with regard to their anti-air grid.

    It's important to note: At this stage it is clear that neither the Russians, nor the separatists, intended to shoot down a civilian airliner. They were targeting military assets. That point should be remembered. It's not like Putin's on his dark throne, cackling away at all of this. In fact I suspect he's currently having his men find and quietly dispose of whoever ordered the missile launch.

    That doesn't change the fact that the Russians are clearly supplying the separatists with weapons and trained crews, and that in war people die, including people who had no horse in the race at all. Supplying rebels with state-of-the-air medium range anti-aircraft systems is a significant escalation of the previous conflict which has, as we've seen, the potential to cause all kinds of misery for third parties.

  • by ihtoit (3393327) on Monday July 21, 2014 @12:40AM (#47498483)

    the BUK system is equipped with a civilian transponder safety lock which has to be manually disabled before a missile can be fired at an aircraft showing a civilian IFF.

    Too fucking right it was deliberate.

    The questions (two of) are:

    1. Who disabled the safety lock, and on what authority?
    2. Who fired the missile, and on what authority?

    Neither of which will ever be answered.

    Any punitive action taken over this will inevitably be aimed at the wrong party, will only serve to radicalise, and will only beget more death.

    Welcome to 21st Century warfare.

  • by c6gunner (950153) on Monday July 21, 2014 @12:54AM (#47498503)

    Don't SAM crews get trained for this kind of an eventuality? You'd think they'd get suckered into shooting down an airliner during a few of their simulator sessions in military school just to make double and triple sure the identification procedure for civilian aircraft sticks in their minds like the aftermath of a good hard kick in the nuts.

    And these days they do. It's one of those "lessons learned" things.

    I, along with a bunch of other guys, once got sucked into lighting up an entire household of civilians in training. It really, really sucked. But the reason those scenarios existed is because some poor bastards lit up civilian households for real, and we got to learn from their mistakes.

  • by Xest (935314) on Monday July 21, 2014 @02:41AM (#47498705)

    I don't think black box data will be much use, they were shipped out to Russia within hours of the crash, Alexander Borodai, a Russian national, normally a resident of Moscow and political leader of the "rebels" claims he has them and is waiting for the ICAO to turn up so he can hand them over, except the ICAO can't turn up because his soldiers are blocking them from doing so. The Russians/Rebels are very clearly stalling the handover (they've also been caught removing bits of aircraft and a number of the dead who showed evidence of damage/wounds that would be caused by Buk missile fragmentation FWIW so the whole crash site has become a forensic nightmare in that regard).

    So the chain of custody of flight recorders now makes them utterly useless for determining anything worthwhile. To be useful they'd have had to have been left in the exact spot they fell until international investigators showed up to properly document their locations and to set up a proper chain of custody.

    Speculation is that Russia would easily enough be able to remove some flight data to make it look like the last location pings from the aircraft came further back to the west than where the aircraft was actually shot down so that they can try and pin it on the Ukrainian military.

    I'm intrigued after MH370 whether MH17 was relaying it's satellite locations though given that the company that handles that said they'd offer it for free. I expect an interesting blame game and arguments about tampering to come up if the temporary Russian held black box data mysteriously does end earlier than the satellite data held by Inmarsat in the UK. I'm sure Putin and his cronies will be accusing Inmarsat of making up data when the reverse is true - that if Putin and his soldiers in Ukraine had nothing to hide they wouldn't be fiddling with evidence, removing bodies, running off with the black boxes, and blockading international investigators.

  • by oobayly (1056050) on Monday July 21, 2014 @06:12AM (#47499215)

    I've realised why people keep quoting this. FlightAware provides a low resolution track of the flights - about 100 points* for a flight between Amsterdam and KL. FlightRadar24 provide a track with a 1 minute resolution (~600 points, with large sections missing where there is no ADS-B or MLAT coverage).

    * They now seem to have slightly improved resolution, but now highlight where the track is actually known. Check for yourself - the tracks where data is available is in green, then they draw a great circle where the track is unknown.
    MH17 2014-07-15 [flightaware.com]
    MH17 2014-07-16 [flightaware.com]
    MH17 2014-07-17 [flightaware.com]

    This is the data I originally compiled from FlightRadar24 - All MH17 flights since 14th May [dropbox.com] - and as you can see, they have data points provided every minute, as opposed to guessing where the aircraft was.

    Basically, you've a choice of using a website that provides low resolution lat/lon pairs (FlightAware), or a website that provides timestamped lat/lon data, along with speed, course, altitude and area (FlightRadar). If you're going to use rubbish data to support a hypothesis, you'll end up with a rubbish hypothesis. In fact, you're doing it wrong if you need to use rubbish data to "prove" your hypothesis.

    As for the altitude, it's true that the pilots request FL350, but were refused - this could have been for any given reason - congestion (apparently there have already been reports of near misses over Russia due to congestion due to aircraft avoiding Ukraine airspace - I'm trying to find where I read that), weather (which has been suggested by a pilot's group [theguardian.com]). However seeing as an SA-11 has an altitude range of 60 - 25,000m, 600m isn't going to make a difference if you're attempting to shoot down a civilian airliner.

  • by oobayly (1056050) on Monday July 21, 2014 @06:25AM (#47499255)

    I've realised why people keep saying this - they're using FlightAware, which uses low resolution data, unlike FlightRadar24 which uses 1 minute resolution data. So, people have the choice of using low resolution lat/lon pairs, or 1 minute timestamped lat/lon data which also contains course, speed, altitude and ATC zone. Whether people are are using rubbish data to support their hypothesis out of ignorance or malice doesn't matter - it's rubbish data.

    If you now look at FlightAware's website - they show the known track in green, and fill in the unknown track with a great circle. In fact their [ADS-B, I think] data appears to stop around the Poland-Ukraine border in all cases:
    15th May [flightaware.com]
    16th May [flightaware.com]
    17th May [flightaware.com]

    Compare this to the high resolution data I downloaded from FlightRadar24 - I overlaid all the tracks in Google Earth:
    All MH17 flights since 14th May [dropbox.com]
    You can see from the image a myriad of data-points, something that is missing from the FlightAware data.

    As for the altitude - FL350 was requested and refused - I can't comment on why, but there are plenty of reasons - congestion, weather, etc. However if you're planning to shoot down a civilian airliner with an SA-11 (which has a altitude range of 60 - 25,000 metres), then a difference of 600 metres isn't going to make a difference.

  • by muecksteiner (102093) on Monday July 21, 2014 @09:15AM (#47500275)

    To add to this, whoever pulled the trigger might have been under the misapprehension that the airspace above them was now closed to civilian traffic. The Donetsk region is hardly optimal for real-time access to all pertinent data, and from 00:00 on that day, there was actually a new (!) NOTAM in force that closed all airspace in the region beneath FL320 to civilian traffic. If the person reading the NOTAM is not the brightest bulb out there, or if the information had been passed around once to often and slightly modified and/or "streamlined" in the process (intentionally, or just unintentionally), this might have ended up as being read by those in the command vehicle as "completely closed". Misunderstandings like this have happened over and over again, sadly.

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