Relatives of 10 Australians killed when MH17 was shot out of the sky over eastern Ukraine visited the Russian consular office in Sydney to deliver the statement, and read out the names of the 298 people killed when a Buk missile downed the Malaysia Airlines flight.
Relatives of 10 Australians killed when MH17 was shot out of the sky over eastern Ukraine will mark today’s fifth anniversary of the atrocity with a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin demanding an end to the “disingenuous denials, deceit and lies” over the incident.
Some next of kin will also visit the Russian consular office in Sydney to deliver the statement, and read out the names of the 298 people killed when a Buk missile downed the Malaysia Airlines flight.
Among those to have signed the statement are Meryn and Jon O’Brien, whose 25-year-old son, Jack, was among the victims; Jane Malcolm, who lost her mother and stepfather, Carol and Michael Clancy; and Paul Guard, the son of Jill and Roger Guard.
A New Zealand and three Malaysian families are also signatories to the letter demanding those “directly responsible for committing this crime along with the chain of command above them be held to account”.
“The Russian government has done its best to hide the truth, or worse, convey the idea that there is no reliable truth to be found,” the statement said.
“We the families of MH17 have found this disturbing and deeply offensive.”
It will be the fifth year the O’Briens have approached Russia to seek acknowledgment of the country’s involvement, and Mrs O’Brien said they would continue until they received a satisfactory response.
“To be meek and do nothing is intolerable,” Mrs O’Brien said.
Ms Malcolm agreed there could be “no giving up” until Russia co-operated fully with investigators. “A lot of people have worked very hard for us, from the victim identification teams doing all the forensics to the Joint Investigation Team and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,” Ms Malcolm said. “They’re doing so much, but it would all be unnecessary if the Russians just co-operated. We’d just like to have a statement of facts put out there in a coherent manner.”
Mr Guard said he wanted to see Russia acknowledge not only its role in MH17, but the part it played in the conflict in Ukraine.
“From starting and continuing the conflict and the fact they had a missile launcher in Ukraine, they need to explain,” Mr Guard said. “They’ve always claimed it was not their war but clearly there’s evidence Russia was supplying both personnel and equipment.”
Although there are no official memorials planned in Australia today, a service will be held in The Netherlands, where 196 of the victims resided.
The Dutch government also hosted a symposium yesterday to reflect on the five years since the tragedy, and the “geopolitical battle” it had sparked between The Netherlands and the Russian Federation.
Last month, four men were charged over MH17 including three Russians and a Ukrainian, and a trial set down for next year, but none is expected to actually face court.
Another man, Vladimir Tsemakh, was arrested in Ukraine last week over his role as a witness to the missile strike, and could stand trial.