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Lavrov: Hopeful MH17 crash probe will respect ‘presumption of innocence’

Published time: July 28, 2014 07:32
Edited time: July 28, 2014 10:03
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey (RIA Novosti / Alexey Nikolsky)

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey (RIA Novosti / Alexey Nikolsky)

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has urged Western partners against jumping to conclusions over what caused the MH17 crash before an international investigation into the catastrophe is conducted.

Lavrov said the only way to have an impartial investigation is to have it under the aegis of the United Nations.

“Only honest, open participation of all who possesses information on the catastrophe can be considered normal,” he told journalists at a briefing in Moscow.

“We’ll regard everything else as attempts to influence investigators, question the presumption of innocence and – I don’t want to accuse anyone – but we hope no one will try to cover tracks.”

Moscow would like to see a UN Security Council resolution on the investigation adopted.

“We are concerned by the fact that some of our partners are trying to organize the investigation by means of holding separate bilateral talks with the Ukrainian authorities,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov believes only the UN Security Council will be able to ensure the Malaysian Boeing crash site is safe for investigators. He has accused the Ukrainian government of not delivering on its promise of a ceasefire in the area.

We’ve heard Poroshenko’s promise, but his statement isn’t actually supported by actions. Fighting goes on, shelling – by Grad missiles as well – continues.”

A team of Dutch and Australian investigators was unable to get to the MH17 crash site on Sunday because of fighting in towns close to the area. The group was planning to repeat their attempt at getting to the scene on Monday.

Chief of Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Alexander Hug walks with separatists at a railway station in the eastern Ukrainian town of Torez.(AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

The minister said he was expecting OSCE observers to arrive to the border between Ukraine and Russia to monitor the situation there.

We are expecting deployment of OSCE mission at the check-points of ‘Donetsk’ and ‘Gukovo’ in the coming days. I asked [US Secretary of State] John Kerry in a phone call yesterday to instruct the US team at the OSCE not to curb the realization of this agreement.”

Lavrov said Russia would not object to the OSCE mission using “any means of monitoring,” including drones on the Russia-Ukraine border.

‘Attempt at censorship’

Sergey Lavrov said Moscow was seriously concerned with the reports of Ofcom, a TV broadcast watchdog in UK, considering an investigation into RT following complaints by several viewers, accusing the channel of being biased in its coverage of the MH17 crash.

I think this is an absolutely barefaced attempt at censorship,” the minister said.

Lavrov has called on Russia’s Western partners to respect the freedom of press.

We’ve never had in mind undertaking any punitive measures against the BBC or any other TV companies, even though their reporting contradicts the information that we possess,” he said.

Lavrov reminded of an incident in which a report on the MH17 crash was deleted from the BBC’s Russian website and said he was hoping that governments would not try to get the mass media “involved in playing political games.”