REUTERS

Konstantin Ernst, chief of Russia's main state TV station Channel One, has admitted that footage in support of a Russia theory that it was a Ukrainian Air Force jet that allegedly downed a Malaysian MH17 airliner over Donbas in July 14 was a mistake.

He made this confession in a comment to New Yorker journalist Joshua Yaffa.

"In July, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, headed from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot out of the sky as it passed over eastern Ukraine, and all two hundred and ninety-eight people on board were killed. The Dutch launched a years-long multinational investigation, which eventually identified Russia-backed separatists as having fired the missile and traced the anti-aircraft system used in the attack to a Russian military unit," Yaffa wrote in an article on December 9.

Read alsoMoscow suggests Malaysian experts should look into Russia data on MH17 crash – Russian media

"As the inquiry proceeded, [Russia's] state media went into a fury, giving voice to every other possible theory: that the Malaysian airliner had been targeted by the Ukrainians in the mistaken belief that it was Putin's plane; that it was hit accidentally as part of an air-defense training exercise gone wrong; that it was downed by the Ukrainian Air Force. In November 2014, Channel One aired what it called 'sensational' footage: a satellite image, supposedly taken by Western intelligence services and passed to Russia by an American scientist, that purported to show the plane being attacked by a Ukrainian fighter jet. 'The image supports a version of events which has hardly been heard in the West,' a host said.

"The picture was quickly outed as a fake. The time stamp didn't match that of the incident, the plane had identifying markings that distinguished it from the Malaysian aircraft, and the terrain underneath was clipped from photos posted online two years before. When I asked Ernst why his channel gave voice to something so easily disproven, he said that it was a simple error: 'Yes, we're human, we made a mistake, but not on purpose.' Baldly false stories, in the right doses, are not disastrous for Channel One; in fact, they are an integral part of the Putin system's postmodern approach to propaganda," Yaffa wrote.

However, Ernst declined to accept the official report on the downing of the passenger plane.

"When I asked Ernst about the official Dutch report, he told me that our disagreement came down to a matter of belief: 'You believe the Dutch report is true, and I believe the Dutch report is unprofessional.' It was as if we were arguing about religion or aesthetics rather than a set of facts," Yaffa continued.

UNIAN memo. Malaysia Airlines' MH17 Boeing 777 heading from Amsterdam for Kuala Lumpur was shot down on July 17, 2014, over Russia-occupied territory in Donetsk region. All 298 people on board who were citizens of 10 countries were killed in the crash. The majority of the victims, 196, were citizens of the Netherlands.

The Dutch Safety Board October 13, 2015, issued a report on the causes of the accident. It was revealed that the plane had been shot down by a Buk anti-aircraft missile system. The Joint Investigation Team in its report published on September 28, 2016, confirmed that the plane had been downed by a Russian-made Buk brought to Ukraine from Russia.

On June 19, 2019, JIT investigators accused four Russia-controlled military intelligence officers of involvement in a missile attack that shot down MH17.

The first four suspects in the MH17 case are Russian terrorist Igor Girkin (AKA "Strelkov"), who in the summer of 2014 was the so-called "Minister of Defense of the Donetsk People's Republic" ("DPR"); Russian General Sergei Dubinsky (nom de guerre "Khmuryi"), who led the "DPR intelligence;" Oleg Pulatov (nom de guerre "Gyurza"), who in 2014 headed of "the 2nd division of the GRU of the DPR;" as well as Leonid Kharchenko (nom de guerre "Krot"), who was a leader of the "reconnaissance battalion" of Russia-led forces. The trial of those suspects in the crash of the Malaysian Boeing should begin on March 9, 2020.

In summer 2018, the Dutch government announced Ukraine was not being held partly responsible for the disaster.