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Russian Government Edits Wikipedia On Flight MH17 667

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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  • Re:Protip: (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 20, 2014 @07:44PM (#47496927)

    1. It's the scene of an "accident", not a crime.
    It's a war zone, and the Western media conveniently omits that 2 military planes were downed in the previous 3 days in the exact same area via the exact same means.

    2. Would the US or Britain permit an external power (e.g. Ukraine) to investigate any of their territories?

    3. 300 people killed when MH-17 was accidentally downed
    350 Palestinians deliberately killed in the past 4 days

    4. To paraphrase yourself:
    The United States and England lost all credibility the second they (predictably) mounted their co-ordinated propaganda campaigns.

  • by richlv ( 778496 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @07:46PM (#47496941)

    of course, russian govt is the most knowledgeable - they shot down the damn plane.
    on the other hand, the rest of the world knows quite a lot - photos and videos on the ground, showing buk system moving around, intercepted terrorist conversations that include receiving of the buk, moving it around, then scrambling to react when they find out just what they just shot down.
    that also includes public bragging about downed ukrainian plane, only to hastily remove all those comments once they figured out that it's a civilian plane.
    after that they publicly try other idiotic statements like claiming that all passengers were dead in amsterdam already (yeah, happens in that city every now and then, right ?), or trying to find "weapons" in the remains of the plane.
    then more intercepted conversations where they are given the orders from the "higher ups, from moscow, you know what i mean" not to let anybody who's not "theirs" near the crash site and above all - find all "black" boxes and ship them to moscow.

    there is no "anti red agenda". there's a fascistic, aggressive country that invaded and annexed part of a european country. and there are lots of paid commenters who try to whitewash the crazy actions of russian state. (although some might be genuinely crazy and/or uninformed and do it for free)

  • Re:Propaganda (Score:5, Informative)

    by richlv ( 778496 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @07:50PM (#47496965)

    a strategy of kremlin propagandists.
    distribute lies about events ("oh, ukrainians shot down mh 17 ! they even shot down their own planes a few days before that. we claimed credit for that just for fun !"), then go "ooooh, but you know, i don't trust either side, they all are lying"

    so far russia has been caught lying many times. all evidence points at russian special forces (and regular army, too) being responsible both for invasion in eastern ukraine, and for downing mh17 specifically.

    please, stop whitewashing this terrible government, it can lead to even more tragic losses.

  • Re:lol (Score:5, Informative)

    by richlv ( 778496 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @07:59PM (#47497035)

    Whoever shot down the plane, they were "soldiers" or fighters of some variety and almost certainly can be described as Ukrainian, given that everyone seems to agree that the fighters are actually eastern Ukrainians and at most Russia is supplying weapons to them.

    is that "everybody" 'russia today' ?
    try googletranslating [] - ukrainian army detains 23 terrorists. somehow all 23 turn out to be citizens of the russian federation.
    there's also an interview with a former warrior from moscow how tells how 80% of them were from russia, with locals not exceeding 20%.

    let's bisect the other thing you said - "at most Russia is supplying weapons to them".
    "at most". as if they were given bows and arrows. they get armoured vehicles. they get... tanks. they get bloody sam systems that can reach targets up to 25km.

  • by Guy Harris ( 3803 ) <> on Sunday July 20, 2014 @08:01PM (#47497051)

    God forbid somebody who happens to work for or be a Congressperson spread disinfomation by alphabetizing categories...

    ...or adding serial commas!

    You might want to limit yourself to examples where somebody's changing the tone of an article to favor (or mock) some particular view, like the rest of the links.

    And, of course, a particular Congressperson or staffer for that Congressperson isn't necessarily acting on behalf of the US Government, just as somebody working at or for the VGTRK isn't necessarily acting on behalf of the Russian government. (Perhaps it'd be more likely in the latter case, but if it were somebody posting from the Duma in that case, or somebody from the Voice of America in the former case, it'd be a closer match.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 20, 2014 @08:01PM (#47497053)

    Poor shills are on their 3rd straight day without sleep, and over-time pay is reduced to only 6 extra potatoes due to sanctions. Remember to take a rest, comrades. Next week when the satellite and black box data come out you will be needed even more.

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @08:05PM (#47497087) Journal

    And where exactly are you from? Some of the most accusatory reporting is coming from Europe.

  • by Michael Woodhams ( 112247 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @08:15PM (#47497149) Journal

    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 [] 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.

    Having said that, the possibility exists that rebels with military experience seized such a weapon system from an overrun Ukrainian military base.

  • by poity ( 465672 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @08:18PM (#47497165)

    Russian news sites were just yesterday trying to insinuate that Putin's presidential plane took the same flight path as MH17, and that this was a botched assassination by Kiev. Of course, a quick glance at a map will reveal that a plane flying from Brazil to Poland to Russia never even comes close to Eastern Ukraine.

  • by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @09:02PM (#47497399)

    > Btw. does anyone here remember the USS Vincennes?

    Actually yes, I do. There were various discussions about at what point the crew knew they'd just shot down an airliner, or at what point they should have known that they were targeting one. There've even been various conspiracy theories that they knew it was an airliner all along and shot it down intentionally to kill someone or another who was onboard. But the US has always admitted that it was the one who shot down that airliner.

    At no point has the US government tried to re-write history and disavow the blame by claiming that it not the US who pulled the trigger; but some bunch of locals who somehow managed to capture (and figure out how to operate) the Vincennes.

    They misidentified Flight 655 as an Iranian F-14 operating out of Bandar Abbas, a known F-14 base but also a civilian airport. That may seem strange to us in Europe or the USA where miltary and civilian operations are conducted from separate facilities but in many parts of the world it is not by any means uncommon for a couple of jet fighters packing bombs and missiles to be launching out of the military half of an airport and an airliner taking off of from the civilian half a minute or two later. The military systems I am familiar with today are data fused with air traffic control systems so civilian aircraft are automatically flagged for the military controllers and they have access to flight plans and other such data but I'm not sure to what extent the military had access to civilian flight control data back in 1988. I'm guessing very little especially on a destroyer off the coast of Iran. The Vincennes tired to contact Flight 655 on civilian and military emergency frequencies but not air traffic control frequencies which is strange since that was their best bet to get the attentinon of a civilian aircraft. 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.

  • Putin the murderer (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 20, 2014 @09:10PM (#47497447)

    Putin is a murderer. He is sending Russian Special Forces into Eastern Ukraine, supplying them with weapons, occasionally training them, and when shit happens does the "Russian Bullshit Story"(tm). "I don't know anything about it, its not me, it happened somewhere else, Russia is on the other side of the planet from Ukraine, while this was all going on my dog was eating my homework, ask Baghdad Bob, he will confirm that I was on a fishing trip in Jamaica during this event, along with all of the Russian military. We were all in a rowboat. Two guys got fish (which we all shared). I, being Putin caught one of them. My fish was 75 pounds. It came pre-cooked. Ask any of the thousands of soldiers who were with me. They all agree." Perhaps Putin expects us to believe the bullshit he is pushing. My real question is: do the Russian people believe his bullshit? And a followup: if they *really* believe his bullshit, is there a toxic lead leak in Russian water? Are they all drunk? Is there some mass mental defect somewhere?

  • by FatLittleMonkey ( 1341387 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @09:33PM (#47497543)

    There's also question of motivation. Why would soldiers waste expensive missiles for some irrelevant passenger plane?

    To shoot down Ukrainian military aircraft. They had already shot down a Ukrainian transport plane and a Ukrainian fighter within the previous week. They were on a roll.

    Why would be there a plane over a warzone in the first place? That just doesn't make sense.

    It was a major air route. There were over 50 civilian airliners over eastern Ukraine at the time MH-17 was shot down. And about 24 aircraft flew through the precise area MH-17 was hit, over the previous day. There was a Singapore Airlines jet close enough to MH-17 at the time for the pilots to see it explode.

    Aircraft are currently flying over northern Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Israel...

  • by FatLittleMonkey ( 1341387 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @09:36PM (#47497563)

    and the Ukraine government doesn't have that kind of hardware in the first place.

    Nonsense. Ukraine has many Buk short range SAM systems (like the one that killed MH-17.) They also have S-200 long range SAM systems.

  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @09:45PM (#47497609)

    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 [] 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.

    Having said that, the possibility exists that rebels with military experience seized such a weapon system from an overrun Ukrainian military base.

    There's video of the launcher being driven back into Russia short 1 missile. [] It is, almost undoubtedly a Russian system.

  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @09:50PM (#47497627)

    False equivalence.

    Sides are not equally wrong, and truth is not somewhere in the middle. There is a very clear wrong side - Russian equipment operated by Russian-sponsored terrorists and/or Russian military misidentifying civilian aircraft and shooting it down. Anything else is intentional misinformation.

    "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.

    Yes, but they're terrorists for acts outside of this lone incident. If you look at the same groups acts over the past 10 months or so, they are clearly terrorists, independent of this particular accident. They are trying to "Terrorize" the Ukrainian government into giving them sovereignty. Not that the use of that lone word makes much of a difference anymore anyway.

  • by richlv ( 778496 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @09:51PM (#47497633)

    here's a usa statement (they got some satellites and other systems that help with gathering information) : []
    the careful wording in the world of diplomacy means "oh stop fucking around, it's 100% clear who did it".

    At the time that flight MH17 dropped out of contact, we detected a surface-to-air missile (SAM) launch from a separatist-controlled area in southeastern Ukraine.

    also, the terrorists are sent and controlled by russia. if that indeed was not them... you can be sure as hell they would allow any and all inspections, completely secure the area to prevent any tampering, get all blackboxes and deliver them to international experts. because it would be juuuust perfect for them.
    they did the opposite.

  • Re:lol (Score:5, Informative)

    by FatLittleMonkey ( 1341387 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @09:52PM (#47497637)

    The commander of the eastern Ukrainian militia is a Moscow native and "former" GRU (Russian military intelligence) officer with no ties to Ukraine prior to the war.

    No-one disputes that. Not on either side, Ukraine or Russian. The only dispute is over that "former". The Ukrainian government says he's still an active duty officer taking direct orders. They even know the name of his immediate GRU commanding officer in Moscow. Russia claimed he "retired" a month before he entered Ukraine.

    The "Prime Minister" of the break away territory is a Moscow native. He ran a right wing news service for several years, with the protection and support of the Russian government. He was widely believed to be FSB. He had no ties to Ukraine before the war. He was sent into Crimea as a political "consultant" on behalf of Moscow during crisis there, then "retired" and moved on to eastern Ukraine.

    No-on disputes any of that. The only dispute is whether he's FSB and whether he's still working for the FSB.

    It seems that it's only really the western media which persists in treating it like a spontaneous uprising by local (ethnic-Russian) Ukrainians.

  • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @10:27PM (#47497759) Homepage

    From documentaries/etc that I've seen there were a few issues:

    1. An airline timetable that was used to check published routes was improperly adjusted for timezone, thus missing the planned takeoff.
    2. The operator interrogating the aircraft transponder kept the aircraft selected for a long time - which caused it to keep a different aircraft's response after they had separated on the screen. If they had re-interrogated it they'd probably have picked up the civilian transponder code.
    3. I believe there had been threats or an actual attack on another ship recently, putting pressure on the captain to not let hostiles get too close.

    The only reason that more events like this happen is that the Iranians (or anyone else) haven't actually fired on a US ship. So, US ships accept risky situations that would be likely to get them sunk in an actual conflict. The fact that an aircraft is using a civilian transponder code and is on an airline timetable doesn't in any way ensure that it isn't a hostile aircraft. If somebody actually launched an attack by masquerading as a civilian aircraft it would make air travel a LOT less safe overnight. Either the US would have to stop putting naval ships in constrained waters like the Persian Gulf, or it would have to announce fairly large no-fly zones (extending over national airspace), or it would have to accept losing the occasional ship when somebody decides to sink one (unless Aegis really is that good).

  • Re:It gets worse... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 20, 2014 @10:57PM (#47497877)

    a) The only side shooting at planes are the pro-Russian militants because only the Ukrainian military has had planes in the sky to shoot at.
    b) These missiles were supplied by the Russians. To shoot a plane down from 30000 feet in the sky requires a hell of a lot more than a bottle rocket.

    There is nothing to dispute here. For Russia or the pro-Russian militia to argue otherwise is incredulously sad, pathetic and stupid. Shameful.

  • by Sasayaki ( 1096761 ) on Sunday July 20, 2014 @11:45PM (#47498119)

    > shot down a Ukrainian fighter

    I'm seeing this a lot. Minor point of order: The craft that was shot down was an SU-25 Frogfoot (, which is a ground attack aircraft; the Eastern Bloc equivalent of the A-10 "Warthog" Thunderbolt II (

    I agree with the broader point though that it seems clear that whoever was operating the Buk SAM system was aiming for Ukrainian air assets, based on their previous actions, but they dun goofed and shot down a civilian aircraft.

    At this particular point in time, it does not seem to be a deliberate action. The fact that the agencies involved (Russia for supplying the expensive, specialist equipment with crew trained in its use; Russian-backed Separatists for ordering the anti-air action) are going to great lengths to attempt to cover up their involvement speaks volumes in support of this conjecture.

  • Re:lol (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 20, 2014 @11:53PM (#47498147)

    He is ex FSB not GRU. regardless he seems more a mercenary for hire rather than a Russian agent. if you look at his history he has been involved in wars throughout the world where he would have no reason to be apart from money or simple love of war.

  • by Tough Love ( 215404 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @12:34AM (#47498275)

    Everyone seems to forget that this entire affair started because of a European/US backed coup overthrew and elected pro-russian government.

    We all forgot that, perhaps because it is not true? I seem to recall a murderous kleptomaniac thug being evicted from power on the strength of popular protest.

  • by ihtoit ( 3393327 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @01:32AM (#47498459)

    FYI: the target acquisition radar systems on the Gadfly BUK missile systems are all equipped with built-in IFF decoders.

    It takes a conscious effort and training in advanced operation of the Gadfly to disable the civilian IFF safety of a Gadfly system, which is there to prevent a missile being fired at a civilian aircraft.

    Source: training.

  • by top_down ( 137496 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @02:23AM (#47498553)

    They are certainly also soldiers but describing them only in that way gives them a legitimacy they don't deserve.

    Check out this excellent description of what is going on in the Ukraine: []

  • Re:It gets worse... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardprice@gm a i l . com> on Monday July 21, 2014 @03:12AM (#47498645)

    Of course there are things to dispute, because both your assertions have bias in them - the Ukrainian air defence system was on a higher state of alert because they had accused the Russians of shooting down a Ukrainian air force jet earlier that day, and the Ukrainians have the missiles that are alleged to have shot down the 777 (but we have no proof at all of the type of missile, just assertions coming from the Ukrainian side). So its well within the realms of possibility that the Ukrainians shot down the jet thinking it was a Russian air force incursion.

    As for who claimed the shoot down in the immediate moments afterward, remember how many groups claimed 9/11 before it was finally pinned down to Bin Laden.

    If you look at this from a neutral point of view, then nothing has been confirmed or proven yet - other than the 777 crashed of course.

  • Re:It gets worse... (Score:4, Informative)

    by amaurea ( 2900163 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @03:50AM (#47498717) Homepage

    I agree that it's most likely that the separatists were the ones who shot down the plane. They had shot down several Ukrainian military planes before, and probably thought they were preventing the arrival of enemy soldiers or bombs. This is also supported by the wiretap evidence released by the Ukrainian central government (though as one of the parts in the conflict, they are not likely to be the most reliable source).

    I partially disagree on the second point. While it may well be that the missiles were supplied by Russia, we should remember that this kind of missile (probably a BUK launcher), has been a part of the standard ground-to-air arsenal in Sovjet since the 1970s, and was inherited by its member states when it split up, among them Ukraine. The separatist-controlled area of Eastern Ukraine apparently contain several military bases and weapons factories that have now fallen under the control of the rebels. This would be an obvious candidate for how they could have gotten hold of BUK weapons.

    The Crimean situation saw large numbers of defectors from the Ukrainian military join the rebels there. If this happened in the seized military bases, then that would also give a natural explanation for how people who know how to operate these weapons came to be among the separatists (assuming they are difficult to use in the first place).

    So I think that there are several sensible hypotheses for where the weapons could have come from. It is too early to say that they must have come from Russia (though that certainly is very possible).

  • Re:It gets worse... (Score:5, Informative)

    by IgShaman81 ( 788693 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @04:01AM (#47498743)

    In this particular case, there was exactly one terrorist group who claimed they shot down AN-26, a military support plane. Only to find out 30 minutes later it was a Malaysian Air flight. They also claimed 2 planes in 48 hours leading to the incident. They posted numerous pictures of BUK AA system(s) in their possession, in 3 weeks leading to this incident.

  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @04:10AM (#47498773)

    He was also democratically removed. Whilst a majority of 75% is needed under Ukrainian law to pass the actual impeachment, before that can be done there must be an investigation into whether he has committed an impeachable offence. A majority (73%) of elected representatives voted to start impeachment procedures - i.e. investigation into whether he has done something that makes him liable for impeachment. Rather than face that investigation he decided to resign, flee to Russia, then once in Russia, try and "un-resign" which isn't a thing you can do.

    "Are you so sure that his pro-EU replacement was democratically elected?"

    Yes, because there were international monitors in every region that the rebels weren't blocking elections, and where the rebels were blocking elections the number of people who could vote wasn't high enough to change the outcome anyway. These were actual international monitors who provide transparency so that their work can be properly verified, as opposed to the far-right monitors Putin used to rubber stamp the Crimean referendum for which there was no verifiability too.

    The problem isn't that Yanukovych was democratically elected, most Ukrainians accept he was. The problem is that he was democratically elected after years of his opposition being destroyed by Russia to make sure he was the only viable candidate. Effectively he was elected because they'd been left with no other choice - elimination of other candidates ranges from poisoning, to Russia screwing the previous leader, Yulia Tymoschenko on gas deals leaving her no choice but to either sign or face more cutoffs then when she was kicked out of office, they used this to jail her claiming she overpaid wasting state funds as if she had some kind of choice.

    So the issue isn't that Yanukovych was democratically elected, we all know he was, he was just elected in the face of no serious opposition due to a decade of Russian interference ranging from assassination attempts to defamation. The issue is that the majority of the public got absolutely fed up after only a few years of him because he was exactly as they expected - a corrupt puppet of Putin and as a result, he decided to resign in the face of protests that triggered the start of the impeachment process against him by a massive majority of elected representatives.

    There was nothing undemocratic about Yanukovych's ousting whatever Putin might tell you. The ability to oust incompetent or corrupt leaders is as much part of the democratic process as election of them in the first place - when you're elected you're not guaranteed immunity for an entire term, you still have responsibilities and can still be held accountable, and he was, which is why he legged it.

  • Re:It gets worse... (Score:4, Informative)

    by IgShaman81 ( 788693 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @04:59AM (#47498879)

    Ok thanks for the clarification. Terrorists indeed claimed to have stolen a BUK system from local Donbass military base, on 29/06: [] Here's another claim - they're saying they fixed it: []

    UA army claimed all BUKs were crippled beyond repair, so it is also likely that specialists and materials needed for repair (if it indeed happened) came from Russia

    Also, there's a series of intercepted phone calls between terrorists on 16-17th of July, where they discuss BUK system newly arrived from Russia.

  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @05:15AM (#47498941)

    Janes the defence intelligence organisation disagrees with you FWIW. They claim that IFF in the Buk systems simply asks if it's a friendly and if it doesn't reply with a friendly signature it assumes it's a foe.

    I know you claim you've been trained in the system but I'd rather believe Janes given that their description makes much more sense. If what you said is true that surface to air missile systems can be disabled from firing at a target by simply claiming to be civilian in their IFF response then they'd be less than useless as every military jet would be flying around pretending to be civilian.

    See here: []

    Quote in question:

    "Although it has its own identification friend or foe system, this is only able to establish whether the target being tracked is a friendly aircraft. It is the electronic equivalent of a sentry calling out: "Who goes there?". If there is no reply, all you know is that it is not one of your own combat aircraft. It would not give you a warning that you were tracking an airliner."

  • by cdrudge ( 68377 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @08:13AM (#47499475) Homepage

    And by American I presume you mean South American since potatoes were originally from the Andes regions of Peru and Bolivia.

  • Re:It gets worse... (Score:5, Informative)

    by IgShaman81 ( 788693 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @08:42AM (#47499623)

    Look, I saw these numerous tweets coming from the accounts used by terrorists themselves. They are still using these accounts, openly and publicly. There's no conspiracy here and no government to trust in order to realize what happened.

  • by dunkindave ( 1801608 ) on Monday July 21, 2014 @11:08AM (#47500661)

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

    They did tell us they did it in a Twitter post right after the shootdown, but that was when they thought they had shot down a military transport. Then they discovered the plane was a civilian airliner so they deleted the post and shifted into denial mode. Nope, didn't shoot it, never had such a missile system, nothing to see so please go away.

    I also find funny Putin's explanation that it is Ukraine's fault since if they were to have just rolled over and let the fighters have what they want, then they wouldn't have been shooting at planes. Officer, it isn't my fault the guy got shot, he got in the way of my bullet so it's his fault!

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."