Information war monitor for Central Europe: July 2017 MH17

on 28.07.2017

On 17th July 2017, we commemorated the third anniversary of the plane crash of Malaysia Airlines MH17 flying to from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, which was shot down while flying over the territory of eastern Ukraine. The disaster claimed the lives of 283 passengers and 15 crew members. Everybody on board of this aircraft did not have any chance to survive and died almost instantly.

Ever since the catastrophe, the MH17 disaster became one of the issues and events, which has been shrouded by quantum of dis- and misinformation spread by disinformation media. Central European countries were not omitted in campaign pursued by pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets. While representatives of Ukraine declared and the findings of the interim report of the Joint Investigation Team on the shoot down of the Malaysia Airlines Flights MH17 provided certain conclusions, disinformation outlets have disseminated myriad of distorting, dismaying and misleading stories. The table below provides just a short overview of them and compare the statements of Ukraine, the Joint Investigation Team and narrative spread by the Kremlin and its media organs.

Source: Facebook page of Disinformation, hoaxes and propaganda

The disinformation campaign of the pro-Kremlin outlets has been ongoing. Even three years after the MH17 crash information confrontation continues and pro-Kremlin narratives are spread aiming to stir the responsibility and thus persecution away from the Kremlin. At the same time, the Joint Investigation Team’s Report clearly states that MH17 was shot down by a BUK surface-to-air missile fired from Russian-backed, separatist-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine.

The Joint Investigation Team composed of international investigators also found that the anti-aircraft BUK missile launcher was transported from Russia to separatist-controlled territory in Ukraine before the incident, and returned to the Russian Federation after the launcher was used to shoot down MH17. However, these findings are omitted from the narratives spread by the Kremlin’s media machine and its followers in Central Europe.

Preparing for the upcoming anniversary, it is possible to observe coordination and unification of narratives spread by disinformation outlets in Central Europe. Pro-Kremlin portals were spreading narratives dismaying the validity of the findings and legitimacy of the Joint Investigation Team.



Written and edited by Katarína Klingová, research fellow at GLOBSEC Policy Institute. This document was published in the framework of projects run by the GLOBSEC Policy Institute and supported by the National Endowment for Democracy. ICT tool >versus<, developed by the Beacon Project of the International Republican Institute, was used by the researchers for data collection. 

©  GLOBSEC Policy Institute

The opinions stated in this report do not necessarily represent the position or views of the GLOBSEC Policy Institute or the National Endowment for Democracy. Responsibility for the information and views expressed therein lies entirely with the authors.



Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Democracy & Resilience



Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Democracy & Resilience