On the sixth anniversary of the 2014 crash of Malaysian Flight MH17 over Russian separatist controlled eastern Ukraine, Russian news site News Front published an article completely distorting and misrepresenting the results of a Washington Post poll about the reasons for the plane crash.
According to News Front the residents of southeastern Ukraine and annexed Crimea do not believe that Russia is responsible for downing the plane. However, the Washington Post article entitled Flight MH17 crashed six years ago. Ukrainians have very different views on who is to blame, based on a poll conducted by two reputable polling companies, Ukraine’s Kyiv International Institute of Sociology and Russia’s Levada Center tells a rather different story.
The survey was first conducted in December 2014 in southeastern Ukraine and Crimea and again in 2019 but this time throughout all of Ukraine, including the occupied territories. People were asked ‘Have you heard about the catastrophe of the Malaysian aircraft in July 2014 in eastern Ukraine? And if so, in your view, what caused it?’ Six possible answers included not heard anything, Ukrainian missile, Ukrainian air force, Donbas militants, Russian military, accident, terrorist act, and hard to say/refuse to answer.
News Front only talks about those survey results which are convenient to its fake premise, it mentions that the survey included Crimea and southeastern Ukraine, but fails to mention that residents of occupied Donetsk and Luhansk also participated in the survey.
News Front claims that “in 2014 only in Ukraine’s western and central regions, where anti-Russian propaganda is actively operating, do people believe that the responsibility for the MH17 crash lies with Russia.” Such a conclusion is a blatant manipulation and distortion of the survey results which in fact indicate that in 2019, more than 50% of those surveyed in the western and central regions believe Russia is guilty of the crash of MH17. At the same time, the majority of those interviewed in the southwestern regions of Ukraine also place the responsibility on the Russian military. The results of the poll in Donetsk and Luhansk in 2019 show that the majority of respondents who agreed to answer believe that “Donbass militants” are responsible for the tragedy.
As for accusing the Ukrainian authorities of anti-Russian propaganda, the Washington Post article clearly states that in a subsequent publication, the newspaper found “that those who watched Russian media were much more likely to hold the Ukrainian military responsible for the crash, rather than any other cause”. An ever present Russian propaganda narrative is accusing Ukraine and the West of anti-Russian sentiment, or Russophobia. News Front further claims that 40% of those surveyed in southeastern Ukraine said they doubted that Russia was responsible for the crash. In fact, the survey results show that nearly 40 percent of the respondents in southeast Ukraine said it was “hard to say” who was to blame. But this does not mean that respondents do not believe in Russia’s involvement in the crash, rather those who live closest to the actual site of the tragedy did notwant to answer the question, explains the Washington Post. Other data in the 2019 survey showed half of the respondents in this region were “generally uncomfortable with the questions in the survey”.